India has a long history of successful evacuations. Indian citizens have been rescued amid natural disasters, wars and other calamities. Read here about the various successful evacuation operations.
Amid Russia’s worrying stand-off with Ukraine, India is carrying out an evacuation operation to bring back Indian citizens from Ukraine. Air India’s special evacuation flight has so far brought back 242 passengers to India. About five more flights are planned to carry out the evacuation operation, reported the Indian Express.
India has a long history of successful evacuations. Indian citizens have been rescued amid natural disasters, wars and other calamities.
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit the world, the Centre launched the Vande Bharat Mission to bring back Indian citizens stranded in foreign countries. In the multiple phases of the operation, about 60 lakh Indians were brought back as on April 30, 2021.
According to the Centre, 18,79,968 Indians flew back in Air India and Air India Express flights, and another 36,92,216 took chartered flights. Naval ships helped 3,987 Indians return home and 5,02,151 were repatriated via land border crossings, reported Moneycontrol.
1990 Kuwait Airlift
In 1990, when 1,00,000 Iraqi soldiers armed with 700 tanks marched into Kuwait, the royals and VIPs had fled to Saudi Arabia. The general public was left behind to fend for themselves. Over 1,70,000 of those stranded in Kuwait were Indians.
On August 13, 1990, 12 days after the invasion took place, India kicked off the evacuation process after diplomatic negotiations. Air India flights brought the first batch of Indians home.
Over the next two months, more than 1,70,000 Indians were airlifted and repatriated to India. It was touted as one of the most successful evacuation missions in history and Air India registered itself in the Guinness World Records for executing the largest-ever air evacuation mission.
In 2015, a conflict raged between the Yemeni government and Houthi rebels. As the country was torn in conflict, the Indian government found itself in a tight spot. Thousands of Indians were stranded and Yemen was not accessible by air due to a no-fly zone announced by Saudi Arabia. India decided to carry out initial evacuation by sea. Over the next few weeks, India rescued about 4,640 Indians stranded in Yemen, along with 960 foreign nationals from more than 41 countries.
The Indian government ended Operation Raahat after evacuating nearly 5,600 people from Yemen.
Operation Maitri is the joint relief and rescue operation by the Indian government and the Indian Armed forces in the aftershock of the 2015 Nepal earthquake. India was quick to respond and the operation started within 15 minutes of the quake. It was the first country to launch a full-fledged rescue and relief operation.
The joint Army-Air Force operation brought over 5,000 Indians back from Nepal by Air Force and civilian planes. The Indian army successfully evacuated 170 foreign nationals from the US, the UK, Russia and Germany.
Operation Safe Homecoming
In 2011, India launched ‘Operation Homecoming’ to bring back Indian citizens stranded in conflict-torn Libya. Operation Safe Homecoming ended after 15,400 Indian nationals were brought home safely from Libya. The air-sea operation was conducted by the Indian Navy and Air India.
Operation Samudra Setu
Operation Samudra Setu was a naval operation launched on May 5, 2020 as part of the national effort to bring home Indian citizens from overseas during the COVID-19 pandemic. It successfully brought back 3,992 Indian citizens to their homeland by sea. Indian Naval ships Jalashwa (Landing Platform Dock), and Airavat, Shardul and Magar (Landing Ship Tanks) participated in this operation which lasted over 55 days and involved traversing more than 23,000 km by sea.
As Israel and Lebanon broke into military conflict in July 2006, the Government of India rescued its stranded citizens by launching ‘Operation Sukoon’, which is now famously known as the ‘Beirut Sealift’. It was the largest naval rescue mission since the 'Dunkirk' evacuation. The task force evacuated about 2,280 people including some Nepalese and Sri Lankan nationals between July 19 and August 1, 2006.
Evacuation from Brussels
In March 2016, Belgium was hit by terrorist strikes at Brussels Airport in Zaventem, and one at Maalbeek Metro station in central Brussels. 32 civilians and three terrorists were killed, and more than 300 people were injured. A total of 242 Indians, including 28 crew members, returned to India in a Jet Airways flight.
(Edited by : Thomas Abraham)