India has begun evacuating some of its citizens who have been stranded in Sudan because of the ongoing conflict.
A ship – INS Sumedha – carrying 278 passengers has departed Port of Sudan and is headed towards Jeddah in Saudi Arabia on Tuesday, officials say.
About 3,000 Indians were estimated to be stranded in Sudan when a conflict broke out between the country’s army and paramilitary force 10 days ago.
India launched Operation Kaveri to rescue its citizens earlier this week.
On Tuesday, Arindam Bagchi, spokesperson of India’s External Affairs Ministry, tweeted photos of the evacuated citizens who could be seen holding the Indian flag and giving a thumbs up to the camera on board the ship.
A day earlier, Foreign Minister S Jaishankar had said that ships and aircraft had been sent to bring stranded Indians home and that 500 people had been moved to the Port of Sudan.
He added that the country was “committed to assist all our brethren in Sudan”.
Earlier, the French Embassy in Delhi said it had evacuated “388 people of 28 countries, including Indian nationals”.
Saudi Arabia too had evacuated three Indians, who were part of the crew of a Saudi flight and were stuck in Sudan’s capital Khartoum.
Last week, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had chaired a meeting to review the situation in Sudan and had asked for “contingency evacuation plans” to be readied for Indians stuck there.
On Sunday, the foreign ministry said that India was “coordinating closely with various partners for the safe movement of those Indians stranded in Sudan” and added that Indian Air Force jets were currently positioned on standby in Jeddah.
Sudan’s regular army and a paramilitary unit called the Rapid Support Forces (RAF) have been locked in a violent conflict since 15 April. More than 400 people have been killed in the fighting while thousands have been injured.
Indians stranded in Sudan had said that they were living in fear and were unable to access necessities like food, water and electricity.
On Tuesday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the 72-hour truce had been agreed between the army and the RSF after 48 hours of negotiations.
It was the fourth attempt to stop the fighting, with previous truces not observed.