The Middle East has become a red-zone on the world map and at least 3000 Indian nationals are trapped in Yemen. While the war between rival groups is on, Indian government is trying to evacuate those caught in the increasingly hostile environment.
The crisis that has unfolded in the region has the people of Yemen caught in a war between Iran-backed Zaidi Shia rebels known as “Houthis” and Saudi-supported forces loyal to President Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi.
The Houthis forced the Yemeni president to flee the capital Sanaa in February, BBC reports.
Interestingly, both President Hadi and the Houthis are opposed by al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). In order to understand the geographical situation of Yemen, take a look at this map.
Up to 500 Indian citizens from Sanaa will be evacuated soon. Air India Airbus A-321 that can carry 180 passengers flew from New Delhi to Muscat, Oman in order to carry out the evacuation. The flight awaits clearance to fly to Sanaa, an Air India spokesperson told NDTV .
On Sunday, March 29, 80 Indian nationals were airlifted from Sanaa to Djibouti, which lies on the opposite shore of Gulf of Aden. It is estimated that 2,500-3,000 Indians are living in or around Sanaa.
Indian Embasssy in Sana’a will provide all help. Phones 00-967-734 000 658 Dilbagh Singh, 00-967-734 000 657 Ram Charan. Pl RT— Sushma Swaraj (@SushmaSwaraj) March 25, 2015
“More than 500 are on a list ready to fly,” a counsellor at the Indian embassy in the Yemeni capital told NDTV. “They are at their homes but can be at the airport within an hour.”
India has permission to operate flights from Sanaa for three hours a day, Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) confirms. If all goes well, the Air India flight can return to Delhi by Monday night.
Yemen – Today we got permission to fly from Sanaa for three hours a day. We will use this slot for evacuating our citizens every day.— Sushma Swaraj (@SushmaSwaraj) March 29, 2015
Yemen – In addition we are sending a ship with a capacity of 1500 passengers.— Sushma Swaraj (@SushmaSwaraj) March 29, 2015
Has India taken the right measures to help Indians in Yemen so far? Some say no.
“Delhi’s immediate focus is naturally on evacuating its citizens in the Middle East. But there is little debate in India on the need to create more effective mechanisms to deal with what has become a recurring challenge in the region,” C Raja Mohan notes in The Indian Express.
Raja Mohan predicts that the war situation in Middle East can only get worse. “But India has shown little sensitivity to the changing political dynamic in the Middle East.”
“Delhi continues to view the region from the perspective of the Arab-Israeli conflict that no longer is the primary contradiction in the Middle East. India can’t secure its multiple interests in the region–including energy and the safety of its migrant workers–without a much greater political engagement of all the contending forces in the Middle East,” he argues in his article.
Meanwhile, MEA spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin has dismissed criticism that Delhi has been slow to react to war-like situation in Yemen, saying it had issued three advisories urging Indian nationals to leave the country – the first on January 21.
Vice did an interesting documentary on the Houthi situation in Yemen before the attacks began. Watch from 17:05 to understand the current scenario better.