New Delhi: India has positioned two heavy-lift military transport aircraft in the Saudi Arabian city of Jeddah and a naval ship at a key port in violence-hit Sudan as part of its contingency plans to evacuate stranded Indians from the African country.
In a related development, Saudi Arabia said it has evacuated from Sudan 66 citizens from “brotherly and friendly” foreign countries that included a few Indian nationals.
It is learnt that Saudi Arabia evacuated three Indians who were part of the crew of a Saudi flight and they were stuck in the Sudanese capital Khartoum.
The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said on Sunday that contingency plans for the evacuation of the Indians from Sudan have been put in place but noted that any movement on the ground would depend on the security situation.
It said the security situation in Sudan continues to be “volatile” with reports of fierce fighting coming from various locations in the country’s capital Khartoum.
The government on Friday said it was focusing on the safety of over 3,000 Indian citizens currently located throughout Sudan.
“As part of our preparations, and in order to move swiftly, the Government of India is pursuing multiple options,” the MEA said in a statement on Sunday.
“Two Indian Air Force C-130J are currently positioned on standby in Jeddah. And, INS Sumedha has reached Port Sudan,” it said.
“Contingency plans are in place but any movement on the ground would depend on the security situation, which continues to be volatile with reports of fierce fighting at various locations in Khartoum,” the MEA said.
Sudan has been witnessing deadly fighting between the country’s army and a paramilitary group for the last 10 days that has reportedly left around 400 people dead.
The MEA said India is making all-out efforts to ensure the safety and security of Indians stranded in Sudan.
“We are closely monitoring the complex and evolving security situation in Sudan,” it said.
The MEA said India is also coordinating closely with various partners for the safe movement of those Indians who are stranded in Sudan and would like to be evacuated.
Apart from Sudanese authorities, the MEA and the Indian embassy in Sudan are also in regular touch with the UN, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt, and the US among others.
The MEA said the Sudanese airspace remained closed for all foreign aircraft and overland movement also has risks and logistical challenges.
“Our Embassy is in regular touch with the stranded Indians in Sudan and is advising them on the viability of safe movement and the need to avoid unnecessary risk,” it said.
“It is also coordinating all possible assistance including possible exit from Khartoum city as and when the security situation permits safe movement,” it added At a high-level meeting on Friday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had issued directions for the preparation of contingency plans to evacuate Indians from Sudan.
After the meeting, the PMO said Modi instructed officials to prepare the contingency evacuation plans, accounting for the rapidly shifting security landscape in Sudan and the viability of various options.
Last week, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar spoke to his counterparts from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt on the ground situation in Sudan with a focus on ensuring the safety of the Indians.
On Thursday, Jaishankar discussed the situation in Sudan with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.
Sudan’s military captured power in a coup in October 2021 and it has been running the country through a sovereign council since then.
The fighting erupted between the forces loyal to two rival generals as both are aiming to wrest control over the country.