565 including 112 Afghan nationals evacuated

565 including 112 Afghan nationals evacuated

S Jaishankar, External Affairs Minister

New Delhi: As many as 565 people, including 112 Afghan nationals, have been evacuated by India from Afghanistan since the Taliban seized control of the war-torn country, the Ministry of External Affairs informed the floor leaders of political parties in Parliament on Thursday.

According to sources, the ministry shared details on the recent developments in Afghanistan with floor leaders of various political parties in Parliament. External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar briefed the leaders.

Among the 565 evacuees, 175 were embassy personnel, 263 other Indian nationals, 112 were Afghan nationals including Hindus and Sikhs and 15 were third country nationals, sources said.

According to the sources, the floor leaders were briefed about pre-emptive measures taken by the ministry, India's priorities in the current circumstances, evacuation operation and challenges faced during the operations. The ministry informed that evacuation of Indian nationals and the safety of diplomatic personal were among India's priorities as Kabul fell to the Taliban.

India also prioritised assistance to Afghan nationals in distress and led international coordination and humanitarian efforts, the sources said.

Informing about the challenges faced during the evacuation, the ministry informed that there were frequent firing incidents near the airport and inside Kabul, landing permissions were delayed, multiple checkpoints were installed by various groups and they were "issues" at the airport, sources said.

Under pre-emptive measures, the ministry apprised the leaders that the temporary withdrawal of India-based "personnel from our Consulates in Herat and Jalalabad" was done in April 2020, the Indian nationals were advised to leave the country immediately and the Indians were also warning of discontinuation of commercial airlines

Besides pre-emptive measures, the leaders were informed that India took several immediate measures including setting up of 24/7 Special Afghanistan Cell established in MEA and E-visa system started for Afghan nationals.

The ministry also informed about the setting up of a Special Afghan cell on August 16 to coordinate repatriation and other requests from Afghanistan in a streamlined manner. The special Afghan cell is manned by more than 20 MEA officials. Over 3000 calls were attended by officials and they responded to 7,826 Whatsapp messages, sources said.

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