Gen Rtd VK Singh in the past too has led evacuation operations in the past and has been lauded for their success as well. This time with tension intensifying in South Sudan, Singh spearheads Operation Sankat Mochan which aims at evacuating 600 people from the strife torn region. The first batch of 143 people have been evacuated safely as per reports coming in.
Even as the operation is underway there are reports that after a brief lull fresh fighting could break out in South Sudan despite a two-day ceasefire. There has been a major outbreak of violence in the capital, Juba, in which almost 300 people were killed.
The Operation has started even as Germany pulled out about 100 of its nationals out of the country.
UN is considering an emergency request from regional leaders to send an intervention brigade to Juba.
Saturday saw two sides pause to mark fifth anniversary of South Sudan’s independence.
Reports coming in from South Sudan estimate 42,000 people have fled their homes in the flare-up, with 7,000 taking shelter in UN peacekeeping bases. Aid groups and churches have taken in 35,000 people.
The latest violence comes hours after a UN Security Council emergency meeting said South Sudan’s neighbours should help end the fighting
Both reportage from the strife torn region and experts say violence means hopes of peace are dimming in the country.
South Sudan achieved independence on July 9, 2011 from Sudan in a referendum that passed with close to 100 percent of the vote.
The main conflict was triggered in December 2013 after charges of a coup.
Hundreds have died in fighting between groups loyal to President Salva Kiir and those supporting Vice President Riek Machar, despite a deal signed between the two factions in August 2015.
Visuals of VK Singh warmly interacting with those who have been rescued from South Sudan have been widely circulated. With 143 rescued the operation for now is on.
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj recently announced the plan to evacuate stranded Indians from South Sudan’s capital Juba after holding an “emergency assistance meeting” to chalk out the rescue. Singh is being accompanied by Secretary (Economic Relations) in the External Affairs Ministry Amar Sinha, Director Anjani Kumar and Joint Secretary Satbir Singh.
Two C17s are being used in the evacuation process. An advisory had been put out by the Indian embassy in South Sudan advising all Indians to “get in touch with the Embassy of India in Juba to avail the special facility.
The evacuation flight route is Juba-Kampala-Trivandrum-Delhi.