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156 stranded Indians reach home from worn-torn South Sudan

South Sudan

New Delhi: The Indian Air Force (IAF) aircraft C-17 carrying Indian nationals from war-torn South Sudan landed in New Delhi this morning.

Union Sports Minister Vijay Goel received Minister of State for External Affairs General (Retd.) VK Singh, who was leading the evacuation operation named as ‘Sankat Mochan’, at the Palam Airport.

The evacuees also included two Nepali citizens, besides nine women and three children.

General (Retd.) Singh told reporters at the airport that 156 persons, including two Nepali citizens, have been evacuated.

“We have so far rescued 156 people those who wanted to come with us. Out of these 85 people deplaned at Thiruvananthapuram Airport. There were some people, who had already booked their tickets when the commercial flights started and 300 people did not want to be evacuated due to their business concerns and other activities. There are nine women and three children among those evacuated,” General (Retd.) Singh said.

“There were a lot of difficulties in the operation because no one was aware of the conditions there. The situation over there is still not stable. And there is firing on the outskirts,” he added.

The evacuation exercise faced a hurdle when several Indians, after registering with the External Affairs Ministry for leaving South Sudan, refused to return despite an appeal by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj.

South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir has ordered a ceasefire after days of intense fighting in Juba which left more than 150 dead and many more injured since fighting broke out on Thursday.

The ceasefire announcement came as United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called on the Security Council to impose an “immediate arms embargo” and targeted sanctions on leaders and commanders blocking implementation of the peace deal.

There was renewed fighting between the government and former rebel forces since Thursday in Juba.

The latest exchanges were apparently sparked by a shootout between President Kiir’s and Vice President Riek Machar’s bodyguards. (ANI)

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