New Delhi: India is sending a team of senior officials to assess the political and security situation in South Sudan, which is witnessing ethnic conflict that has killed at least 1,000 people so far.
India has already issued an advisory for all its nationals not to travel to South Sudan and has asked those residing there to leave.
The team, which is scheduled to leave by the end of the week, would interact with Indian nationals in South Sudan and review the arrangements currently in place for the small staff in the Indian Mission at Juba, government sources said here.
They will also discuss matters with United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS). Approximately 2,000 Indian peacekeepers are serving in the UNMISS.
It may also be mentioned here that Brig. Mistri who was the Deputy Forces Commander of the UNMISS and had returned to India on completion of his normal tour of duty, has rejoined in view of the current situation.
According to initial estimates, there were about 1,000 Indian nationals who were residing in South Sudan at the time of the outbreak of the violence on December 15, 2013, the sources said, adding since then many have left by air and road routes to neighbouring countries or beyond.
"There are still about 250 Indian nationals in South Sudan. The Indian Mission has been regularly interacting with all sections of the Indian community and has reported that their morale remains high," they said.
The officials will also be visiting Addis Ababa to understand the regional approach to the current situation in South Sudan and hold discussions with Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) partners.
There are 68 Indians (all from Tamil Nadu) in Palouge (Upper Nile State) working for Dar Petroleum Operating Company (DPOC) jointly owned by CNPC of China and Petronas of Malaysia. They are contracted by SUDD Services and Investment Company Limited, Juba.
"The Mission is in touch with the Ministry of Petroleum of South Sudan and the CMD of the DPOC who has assured that Indian nationals are safe as there is no conflict taking place there and that they will be evacuated by the company if the situation so warrants," the sources said.