Thiruvananthapuram | Expressing happiness and relief over their evacuation from strife-torn Yemen, a group of returnees today said over 90 of their co-expatriates are still stranded in Sa’dah in that country and wanted immediate government intervention to bring them back.
The returnees said the place, where they are stranded now, is not only a remote region but also a place where air strikes and shelling by Saudi Arabia is fierce. The returnees, who reached the home state in different batches in the last few days, told a press-meet that majority of the stranded Malayalees in Sa’dah were those working in a hospital and their list and other details had already been handed over to the Indian Embassy.
There were about 3,500 to 4,000 Keralites in Yemen. As per our information, a majority of them have left the place, Fr Bijoy Varghese, vicar of a parish church in Yemen, said. Though the Keralites, working in a Sa’dah hospital, were willing to come back, salary dues from the hospital and risk involved in travelling by road were making them confused, he said.
Majority of the returnees have come back leaving their valuables including passports and certificates there. There were many who had to get their salary dues of upto eight months, he said. T V Pushkaran, a member of Kerala Club in Sanaa in Yemen, said they had been on frequent contacts with the stranded people and the Embassy had given all assurance to evacuate them safely at the earliest.
Sa’dah is a remote place which is not well connected with airport or seaport. So, they have to travel to Sanaa by road, which will take over three hours. From there only, they can reach Djibouti and from there to India, he said. On behalf of the Malayali expatriate association there, we have collected the details of all those stranded in Sa’dah and handed them over to the Embassy, he said.
On questions about reports that the Yemen government had asked all Indians to leave the country immediately, the priest said there was no chance of issuing such an order as local authorities were very generous to the expatriates. He said there was no shortage of food, water or power supply or no attack in the residential areas till they had left the place.
He also said the special interest and concern shown by Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy on the issue had helped to speed up the rescue operations. The returnees also appealed all Keralites to leave the war-hit country at the earliest according to the directive of the Embassy. Meanwhile, state Minister for Non-Resident Keralites Affairs K C Joseph urged all Malayalies in Yemen to make use of the facilities made by the government and return home.
Talking to reporters after a high-level meeting, chaired by Oommen Chandy, he said as many as 823 Keralites had already been brought back and efforts had been speeded up to bring back the rest. The minister said now aircraft, carrying those evacuated, land in Mumbai and so the state government has requested External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj to extend the flights to Kochi.
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