sudan india evacuate
Abdul Quadri Ranani, an Indian citizen who was evacuated along with his family from Sudan, speaks with the media upon his arrival at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport in Mumbai, India, April 27, 2023. Image Credit: Reuters

New Delhi: India has deployed the third naval ship INS Tarkash for evacuation operations being carried out in conflict-ridden Sudan, said Foreign Secretary Vinay Mohan Kwatra on Thursday.

The Foreign Secretary made the remarks while addressing a media briefing of the Ministry of External Affairs on Operation Kaveri, launched by the Government of India to rescue stranded Indians in conflict-ridden Sudan.

“I’m informed that the third ship, INS Tarkash, has also reached Port Sudan today as part of our efforts,” Kwatra said.

Apprising the media persons about how the rescue operation is going in Sudan, the Foreign Secretary said, “Two naval ships have also been positioned as part of Government of India efforts. INS Sumedha was the first one to dock, picked up roughly 300 odd Indians yesterday, brought them to Port Jeddah and is today back in Port Sudan to fetch the next group of Indians and bring them to safe harbours.”

Kwatra said that the Government of India is making several efforts to rescue its citizens from Sudan, including setting up of control room in India and in Sudan as well.

“PM Narendra Modi addressed a high-level meeting in which he personally reviewed and directed the officials of the Government of India to take suitable measures to assist and bring back these stranded Indians,” Kwatra said.

The Foreign Secretary also said, “As part of our efforts, two C-130 aircraft of Indian Air Force have been mobilised and are constantly positioned in Jeddah, and have been there since April 19. We have also set up a control room in Jeddah and a control room in Port Sudan. So we have two control rooms working along with our embassy. So there’s a full triangulation of efforts between the control room in Jeddah through our consulate and mission in Riyadh, through the control room team in Port Sudan, which is the north-eastern coast of Sudan, and our embassy in Khartoum City.”

“And of course, each of these three hubs is coordinating their efforts and direction, to bring back the stranded Indians, with the headquarters in Delhi,” he added.

Foreign Secretary Kwatra also informed about the current situation and ceasefires in Sudan. He said that ceasefires have been declared several times and many of them were not honoured. “There has been feedback of sporadic firing going on. The situation on the ground remains highly volatile,” Kwatra said.

Setting aside speculation on how many Indians might be stranded in Sudan, Kwatra said, “Our estimate is that approximately there are 3,500 Indians. These are approximate numbers.”

He also said, “More specifically, I think 3000-odd have already registered online. And roughly an additional 300 are in touch with the Mission embassies. The government of India’s focus in this entire effort has been to advise and assist the standard Indian nationals.”

The Foreign Secretary also said that External Affairs Minister S.Jaishankar also reached out to foreign ministers of other key partners whose nationals were also stuck in Sudan.

“These included Foreign Ministers of the US, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and last night also had a conversation with the UK foreign ministers. His meetings with the UN Secretary-General in New York on April 20 focused exclusively on the situation in Sudan, with a view to making an assessment that would help the Government of India’s efforts to bring back the standard Indians there,” Kwatra said.

Sudan has been witnessing violence due to the fighting between the army and para-military forces.