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Operation Sankat Mochan: Indian Air Force to Rescue 600 Indians Stranded in War-Torn South Sudan

India sent two Indian Air Force (IAF) C-17 military transport Globemaster aircraft to Juba, to evacuate 600 Indians stranded in conflict-ridden South Sudan. The operation being led by Minister of State for External Affairs VK Singh is called “Sankat Mochan”.

“We will make all possible efforts to bring back safely all Indian nationals who are stranded in Sudan,” Gen VK Singh said before departure. He is accompanied by Amar Sinha, Secretary (Economic Relations) in the External Affairs Ministry, Joint Secretary Satbir Singh and Director Anjani Kumar. According to the ministry, there are around 600 Indians in South Sudan. 450 of them are in Juba and nearly 150 are outside the capital.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj announced the evacuations plans after an emergency assistance meeting. Indian Ambassador to South Sudan Srikumar Menon is making arrangements with his team in Juba.

Only people with valid Indian travel documents will be allowed to board, with maximum 5 kg cabin baggage and no check-in luggage. According to reports, 300 Indians have registered with the Indian embassy for evacuation so far. The return flights will be up to New Delhi.

Violence hit South Sudan when rival forces loyal to the president, Salva Kiir, and to the vice-president, Riek Machar, started battling using anti-aircraft guns, artillery attack helicopters and tanks. After days of heavy fighting, President Salva Kiir ordered ceasefire on Monday. More than 300 people including civilians were killed in the violence. The UN has said that 36,000 South Sudanese civilians have fled their homes due to the fighting. Many are living in churches or sites protected by international peacekeepers.

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