Evacuation of Indians from Libya Completed

The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) today announced that Operation “Safe Home Coming” would be completed by today evening. Last batch of 262 Indians were evacuated today from Benghazi to Alexandria while two other groups from Tripoli and Sebha would be home bound later in the evening.

MEA needs to be congratulated for working sincerely and tirelessly to facilitate evacuation of nearly 18,000 Indians under difficult conditions. Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao has led this operation from the front. Strangely, the Foreign Minister S M Krishna was conspicuously absent from the lime light which is in a way understandable after his terrible show at the United Nations.

Fortunately, the situation in Libya has so far not escalated to uncontrollable proportion which meant that the initial delay in starting the evacuation operation did not cost us dearly. At one stage, a US or Western military intervention seemed almost eminent which could have worsened the situation but due to various factors the US and its Nato allies have not been able to take a clear cut decision in this regard. While the UK and France have been urging the US for a more active role in the Libyan crisis, the US is worried that any direct intervention may invoke an anti US feeling – especially in the Muslim World. The Western Allies are not too hopeful of getting a mandate from the UN Security Council as they believe that Russia and China would not approve such an action and if pushed may use their veto.

India has also been lobbying for preventing, or at least delaying a direct action in Libya while the evacuation operation was in progress. It issued a joint appeal to this effect with Brazil and South Africa earlier this week.

Completion of the evacuation operation would now give India a greater maneuverability in taking a stand on the issue. However, we need to keep in mind that most of our neighbours namely Bangladesh, Pakistan and Shri Lanka still have thousands of their citizens still trapped in Libya and India may feel obliged to take their concerns into account.

The Indian retuned from Libya may be relieved for the time being but would soon have to start worrying about their future. They may never return to Libya, not at least in foreseeable future. Those who have lost their livelihood and savings would have to rebuild their lives from the scratch.

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