Conflicts & War

Indian, Nepali citizens return home after evacuation from Afghanistan

New Delhi/Kathmandu, Aug 17 (EFE).- Citizens from India and Nepal arrived in their respective countries on Tuesday on being evacuated from Afghanistan after the country was taken over by the Taliban.

India evacuated some 150 citizens, including its entire embassy staff, from Kabul as the situation in the Afghan capital remained grim two days after the Taliban takeover.

An Indian Air Force transport aircraft carried the Indians home amid chaos at the Kabul airport where thousands of Afghans swarmed tarmac on Monday, trying to escape from the war-ravaged country after President Ashraf Ghani secretly flew out of Afghanistan.

Indian envoy to Afghanistan, Rudrendra Tandon, told reporters in the western state of Gujarat that they were home after two weeks of a “very complicated situation” in that country.

“We are back home safely, securely, without any accidents or harm to any of our people,” he said.

He was speaking to reporters in the western city of Jamnagar where the IAF plane had halted for refueling on its way to New Delhi.

He said the evacuation of the Indian staff from Kabul did not mean “that we have abandoned people of Afghanistan.”

“Their welfare and our relationship with them is very much in our mind. We will try and continue our interaction with them. I cannot exactly say in what form the situation is changing.”

Meanwhile, 118 Nepali and nine Indian citizens arrived in Nepal’s capital Kathmandu after being evacuated with the help of the United States.

“A total of 127 people landed at Kathmandu’s Tribhuvan International Airport on Tuesday morning,” Pratap Babu Tiwari, general manager of the airport, told EFE, adding that among them nine were Indian citizens.

The evacuees were brought in a Jazeera Airways plane from Kuwait by the US government, while another 300 Nepalis were expected to arrive from Doha later in the day, according to Tiwari.

Foreign Ministry’s Joint Secretary Harish Chandra Ghimire told EFE the evacuated Nepali citizens were employees of the US embassy in Kabul.

The evacuation of Nepalis from Afghanistan has been a complicated process given that it has no diplomatic representation in the country despite many of its citizens working there, several of them without proper documents.

Nepal has requested all foreign missions and the United Nations agencies that employed Nepalis to help rescue its citizens, including those undocumented, Tourism Ministry’s Joint Secretary Buddhi Sagar Lamichhane informed EFE.

Since the authorities in Kathmandu do not have a record of the number of its citizens working in Afghanistan, it has issued a public notice asking the families of the migrant workers to provide the details of their kin in the conflict-ridden country.

According to the Department of Foreign Employment, in the last fiscal year ending mid-July, 1,073 Nepalis had obtained labor permits to work in Afghanistan, while the number went up to over 8,000 in the last seven years.

However, these do not take into account the number of undocumented Nepali workers, whose numbers are estimated to be more than 20,000, especially since Afghanistan, despite its high risk, has been a sought after destination due to high remunerations.

According to data provided by the Nepali Embassy in New Delhi, out of 579 Nepalis working inside the US Embassy in Kabul, 184 have already been repatriated and they are on their way back.

Another 736 Nepali nationals were working under various UN agencies in Kabul and the embassies of Germany, United Kingdom, Japan and Canada.

Kabul airport is currently under the control of the US. It resumed its operations on Tuesday morning after a mayhem when thousands of people stormed the facility and reached tarmac to escape the Taliban rule. EFE

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