First batch of Keralites, rescued from Sudan, reaches home

The people said that they were relieved to be back after being evacuated from strife-torn Sudan and said their escape was miraculous.


Published Apr 27, 2023 | 3:58 PMUpdatedApr 27, 2023 | 4:16 PM

Biji Alappat and family returned home safely from war-battered Sudan on Thursday. (I&PRD, Kerala)

Keralite families who returned to the state after being evacuated from strife-torn Sudan are a relieved lot. They said their escape was miraculous.

The families reached the international airport in Kochi on Thursday, 27 April, morning from New Delhi.

“We reached back home because of the blessings of the Almighty. Despite a ceasefire in place, fighting is still raging in many parts of Sudan,” Biji Alappat said.

Hailing from Kakkanad in Kochi, Biji is among the first batch of Keralites, who reached back home to the state Thursday morning from the African nation after being safely evacuated by the External Affairs Ministry on Wednesday.

Also read: Expats from Andhra Pradesh stuck in Sudan waiting to reach Jeddah

‘Never thought there would be a fight’

While talking to the media outside the airport, Alappat said life in Sudan had been peaceful for the past several years and he never thought that there would be a fight between two army factions.

At least 6,000-7,000 Indians lived in Sudan, he said.

“A large number of Indians have already moved to other places from Khartoum via bus. I think, if we can evacuate 500-600 people daily, we can complete the mission in 10 days,” Alappat, who was working in an oil company in Sudan, said.

Talking about the situation in Sudan, Alappat said there was a scarcity in fuel supply and an increase in looting.

“As the tension and violence continue, we do not know when we can go back to Sudan. That is the challenge we are facing,” he added.

Besides Alappat, his wife and three children also reached Kochi on Thursday morning.

Sharon, his wife, said she was very much relieved to have reached home safely and join the other family members.

“Me and the children actually went there for a five-day vacation. We never thought that things would turn out like this. Now, we are feeling very relieved as we are back home,” she told PTI.

Also read: Kerala to make arrangements to bring back ‘Malayalees’ from Sudan

‘Just like a miracle’

For Thomas Varghese and Sheelamma Thomas, a couple from Kottarakkara, who also reached the state on Thursday morning, returning home was “just like a miracle”.

“We never thought that we could come back. We have been living there for 18 years and never faced such a situation before. Life was so miserable after the war broke out,” Thomas told reporters outside the Thiruvananthapuram airport.

His family thanked the central and state governments for their immediate intervention and the evacuation mission.

The wife and daughter of Albert Augustine, a retired soldier from the state who was killed by a stray bullet in Khartoum in Sudan earlier this month, also reached the state this morning.

After reaching Kochi airport, they left for their hometown Kannur in a car reportedly arranged by the External Affairs Ministry.

India has evacuated 670 Indian nationals from Sudan and is looking at rescuing more of its citizens from the strife-torn African nation before the end of a tenuous ceasefire between the regular army and a paramilitary force.

A C-130J military transport aircraft of the Indian Air Force brought 392 Indians to Jeddah from Port Sudan on three flights on Wednesday, a day after an Indian Navy ship rescued 278 citizens from that country.

Sudan has been witnessing deadly fighting between the country’s army and a paramilitary group that has reportedly left around 400 people dead.

(Disclaimer: The headline, subheads, and intro of this report along with the photos may have been reworked by South First. The rest of the content is from a syndicated feed, and has been edited for style.)