India unveils Operation Safe Homecoming, thousands on way

Sunday, February 27, 2011

NEW DELHI - Unveiling Operation Safe Homecoming, India Sunday announced additional arrangements for bringing back thousands of Indians from violence-torn Libya even as 530 have already been flown in from the north African country.

Over 530 Indians were brought to the capital on two Air India flights after they were caught in the turmoil in Libya, where massive anti-government protests have broken out against Muammar Gaddafi.

The first flight, a Boeing 747, carrying 291 Indians, arrived here around Saturday midnight. The second batch of 237 evacuated passengers, who were picked from Libyan capital Tripoli, arrived in an Airbus A330 at 4.10 a.m. Sunday. Libya is home to around 18,000 Indian nationals.

As Indians poured into the airport from flights from Libya, they were greeted by help desks set up by 10 state governments at Terminal 2 of the Indira Gandhi International Airport to assist with food, accommodation, medical check up, transport and further travel arrangements of passengers to their final destinations. All these facilities are being made available free of charge.

Two more Air India flights are to leave for Tripoli Sunday to evacuate 500 more Indians from Libya where the revolt against Gaddafi has turned violent. Gaddafi has hit back, with government forces reportedly killing over 1,000 people.

Besides the over 500 Indians flown to Delhi from Libya, a Gulf Air flight carrying 67 Indian who entered Egypt by land will touch down in Mumbai Monday morning. The 67, including 11 children and two infants, crossed over from Tabrouk in Libya to Salloum in Egypt Saturday afternoon.

On Saturday evening, 88 people had crossed over by road from Libya to Ras Jedir in the neighbouring Tunisia. They were received by officials of Indian embassy, Tunis, who have set up a camp there.

Another 170 people are likely to reach Ras Jedir Sunday, the ministry said.

The Indian government has also chartered a second passenger ship, La Superba, with a capacity of 1,600. It is berthed in Sicily (Italy) and ready to sail to Libya as soon as port preparations are completed, the ministry said.

The 1,200-seater MV Scotia Prince set sail from Port Said (Egypt) at 10 p.m. Saturday and is reaching Benghazi Monday.

Meanwhile, three Indian Navy ships have also sailed to Libya to help in the evacuation of most of 18,000 Indians in the country.

The last time an evacuation on this scale was attempted was after Iraqi president Saddam Hussein’s forces invaded Kuwait in August 1990.

Filed under: Diplomacy

will not be displayed