• Friday, June 21, 2024

HEADLINE STORY

Relatives of Indians stuck in Sudan appeal for help

India is coordinating closely with various countries, including the US, the UK and Saudi Arabia, to ensure the safety and security of Indian nationals, government sources said

Around 3,000 Indians are estimated to be stranded in Sudan (Photo: Getty Images)

By: Pramod Thomas

Relatives of several Indians stuck in Sudan following the fighting between the Army and paramilitary forces have appealed to the government to evacuate them from the African country as soon as possible.

Around 3,000 Indians are estimated to be stranded in Sudan. They include  around 100 people from the Hakki-Pikki tribe, a nomadic tribe from Karnataka, who were in Sudan to sell herbal medicine and products, the BBC reported.

Most of the members of the tribe are in the capital Khartoum and others are in the western city of Al-Fashir.

Khartoum and its sister cities Omdurman and Bahri have been rocked by fierce battles between the army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF), leaving many stranded and causing food supplies to run short.

Mansi Sheth, whose father is stuck in the country, said she was worried about his safety. She said her 63-year-old father was in Sudan on a business trip and was to fly back to Mumbai on last Saturday (15).

“I am worried about my father as he is a senior citizen with health issues. I could briefly speak to him this morning (Wednesday), but after that, there is no contact. We just want to know if he is safe or not,” Sheth said.

“He has sleep apnea that requires him to be on anti-seizure medication and he also uses a medical device (CPAP) which unfortunately was checked in at the airport on Saturday. That is the main reason why we are so desperate to get him out of Sudan because he only has enough medication for the next three days.”

India is coordinating closely with various countries, including the US, the UK and Saudi Arabia, to ensure the safety and security of Indian nationals, government sources said.

External sffairs minister S Jaishankar has already spoken to his counterparts in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates over the situation in Sudan and they assured him of practical support on the ground for the safety of the Indians in Sudan.

Several people whose relatives are stranded in the country took to Twitter to ask the government to evacuate them.

“#Sudan #Khartoum mera bhai Fas gaya hai, please usko aur baki Bhartiyo ko nikalo vhase (My brother is stranded in Khartoum, Sudan..please evacuate him and other Indians there. Please take some action,” a person with the account name gauravsbagul tweeted.

Another netizen with the account name Priyanka Sonawane tweeted, “requesting you to please evacuate Indians. My brother is also stuck in #Sudan #Khartoum. Please do something.”

Prabhu S, a member of the Hakki-Pikki tribe who is in Al-Fashir, told the BBC that the situation is ‘extremely scary’ as firing continues late into the night.

“`We are living in a hotel where the employees went away five days ago, soon after the fighting started,” Sanju Pitaji, who is stuck in Khartoum, was quoted as saying the the broadcaster.

“We are surviving on some leftover bread and drinking water from the tap in the washroom. Ten of us are living in this room.”

Raghuveer, 33, a school teacher from the community who lives in Karnataka, said that his sister, brother-in-law and five other relatives left for Sudan five months ago.

“I spoke to my sister about 10 days ago but haven’t been able to since then,” he said.

Community members told the BBC that they have been cautioned by Indian authorities not to step out of their homes.

Meanwhile, the community’s plight in Sudan sparked a political row in India after Jaishankar, accused an opposition Congress leader of ‘playing politic’ when he tweeted a request to ensure their safe return to India.

(With inputs from PTI)

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