Tuesday, August 17, 2021

IAF airlifts 46 stranded Indians from Afghanistan, more evacuation sorties planned

New Delhi: An Indian Air Force (IAF) evacuation flight returned to India from Kabul on Monday afternoon with personnel and equipment, sources said, adding that more evacuation sorties are planned.

As per the available information, 46 people have been evacuated from Kabul.

A high level official meeting is likely to be held on Monday evening in Delhi to discuss the options and future course of action for the Indian embassy and the staff there.

The Indian contingent in Afghanistan has also been talking to officials on the ground to be able to move to the airport and fly back to India, sources said.

The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), in a press conference on the situation in Afghanistan on Monday, said that the Government of India has been "closely monitoring" all developments there.

MEA Spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said that the security situation in Kabul has deteriorated significantly in the last few days, adding: "It is changing rapidly even as we speak".

"The Government of India has been closely monitoring all developments in Afghanistan. We have been issuing periodic advisories for the safety and security of Indian nationals in that country, including calling for their immediate return to India. We had circulated emergency contact numbers and had also been extending assistance to community members. We are aware that there are still some Indian nationals in Afghanistan who wish to return and we are in touch with them," the MEA spokesperson said.

Bagchi added that the Government of India is in constant touch with the representatives of Afghan Sikh and Hindu communities. He said that the repatriation to India of those who wish to leave Afghanistan will be facilitated by the Government of India.

He said: "We will facilitate repatriation to India of those who wish to leave Afghanistan. There are also a number of Afghans who have been our partners in the promotion of our mutual developmental, educational and people-to-people endeavours. We will stand by them".

Bagchi informed that commercial operations from Kabul airport have been suspended today and added that this has forced a pause in our repatriation efforts. "We are awaiting the resumption of flights to restart the process," he said.

"The situation in Afghanistan is being monitored on a constant basis at high levels. The Government will take all steps to ensure the safety and security of Indian nationals and our interests in Afghanistan," he added.

16/08/21 Manjeet Negi/India Today

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