Planning to evacuate Indians from troubled Libya: Krishna (Lead)

February 23rd, 2011 - 10:21 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Feb 23 (IANS) India is planning to evacuate its 18,000 nationals stranded in Libya, which has been hit by a political turmoil over anti-government protests seeking ouster of strongman Muammar Gaddafi. In the Rajya Sabha, Krishna said that an inter-ministerial committee has been formed to make the road map for the evacuation and ships are being sent to Libyan cities of Tripoli and Benghazi.

“We are lining up ships so that from Benghazi and Tripoli they (Indians) can be evacuated. One ship has already reached Egypt and we are looking at operations to help people reach the coasts so that they can take the ships,” Krishna said.

“There are 18,000 Indians in Libya and each ship can accommodate 800-1,000 (people). So we have to think of (a) large scale operation. We assure the house we will do everything possible to bring every Indian back,” he said.

Thousands of Indians are trapped in Arab countries like Libya, Yemen and Bahrain which are seeing widespread revolt against the ruling regimes.

Noting that Yemen and Bahrain too are witnessing violent political protests, apart from Libya, Krishna said there are a significant number of Indians in these countries and most had gone there to earn their livelihood and are contributing to the growth and development of the host countries, a fact acknowledged by these countries.

There are about 14,000 Indians in Yemen and over 3.5 lakh Indians in Bahrain, he said.

The Indian community in these troubled countries is “reportedly safe”, he added.

Earlier in the day, Krishna said, “We have also issued travel advisories for our nationals to avoid non-essential travel to Bahrain, Yemen and Libya. We will continue to closely monitor the situation in these countries,” he added.

With regard to Egypt, which witnessed a regime change earlier this month, Krishna said that upon the request of the Indian community there, three special flights were arranged by Air India, which carried around 670 Indians from Cairo to Mumbai.

“This was not ‘evacuation’ and government only facilitated arrangement of the special flights of Air India to Cairo, which brought back Indians desirous of returning to India,” he clarified.

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