Juba (Sudan): Operation Sankat Mochan is in full swing as the rescue team headed by Minister of State for External Affairs V K Singh landed in Juba here on Thursday and the process for the evacuation of the stranded Indians began.
"Check-in formalities begin for evacuation as the first C-17 expected to land in Juba soon," MEA spokesperson Vikas Swarup tweeted.
The first IAF C17 Globemaster aircraft landed in Juba along with VK Singh, who met South Sudanese foreign affairs minister, Deng Alor Kuol."Indian Blue Berets posted in South Sudan as part of UNMISS lend a helping hand in evac`n effort. Close co-ord`n with local authorities.
MOS @Gen_VKSingh meets with S Sudan FM Deng Alor Kuol," Swarup added.Earlier, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj thanked Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar for the support towards the endeavour and also extended her best wishes to the Indian Air Force (IAF) who will be carrying out the operation.
"We are launching OP #SankatMochan to evacuate Indian nationals from South Sudan. My colleague @Gen_VKSingh is leading this operation.He will be accompanied by Secretary Amar Sinha, JS Satbir Singh and Director Anjani Kumar.
Our Ambassador is South Sudan Srikumar Menon and his team is organising this operation on the ground," External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said in a series of tweets.Two IAF C17`s departed for South Sudan around 5 am today with VK Singh leading the operation.
The developments were set in motion after Bollywood actor Akshay Kumar appealed to Swaraj to help the Indian nationals stuck in the war-struck area.".@SushmaSwaraj Ma`am request for speedy measures and actions to evacuate Indians stranded in Sudan. Prayers with them.
#SaveIndiansInJuba," Kumar said in a tweet.In response to this, Swaraj said, " Akshay Kumar ji - Pl do not worry. We are evacuating Indian nationals from Juba (South Sudan)."Swaraj said the evacuation scheme is fully ready and if the situation worsens then the government will not delay and immediately evacuate Indians from there."The situation in South Sudan deteriorated suddenly in the past three days. We have constituted a task force to constantly study the emerging situation in South Sudan and to closely tab on the occurrences there.
The task force held a meeting in the morning," Swaraj told ANI."There are around 600 Indians in South Sudan, of them 450 are in Juba (capital city of South Sudan) and nearly 150 are outside Juba. At present, the fighting is taking place in Juba," she added.
South Sudan`s President Salva Kiir has ordered a ceasefire after days of intense fighting in Juba left more than 150 dead and many more injured since fighting broke out on Thursday.
The ceasefire announcement came as United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon called on the Security Council to impose an "immediate arms embargo" and targeted sanctions on leaders and commanders blocking implementation of the peace deal.There was renewed fighting between the government and former rebel forces since Thursday in Juba.
The latest exchanges were apparently sparked by a shootout between President Kiir`s and Vice President Riek Machar`s bodyguards.