India is providing 270 metric tons of food aid to Sudan, South Sudan, Djibouti and Eritrea as part of its assistance to friendly countries to overcome natural calamities and the COVID-19 pandemic, the Ministry of External Affairs said on Thursday.

Ministry of External Affairs Spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said the INS AIRAVAT left Mumbai on October 24 on a visit to this region with this aid comprising wheat flour, rice and sugar.

He said that in keeping with India's tradition of reaching out to people of Africa in times of need, the government decided to provide humanitarian assistance to Sudan, South Sudan, Djibouti and Eritrea.

This is in the form of food aid of 270 metric tonnes to people affected by natural calamities and the COVID-19 pandemic in these countries, he said.

"The Indian naval ship is presently in the Port of Djibouti. It has delivered 50 MT of food aid and it will depart Djibouti today and reach Mombasa (Kenya) on November 20 to deliver 70 MT of food aid meant for South Sudan," Srivastava said at an online media briefing.

Ambassador of India to Djibouti Ashok Kumar handed over the 50 metric tonnes gift of food items to Mme Ifrah Ali Ahmed, Secretary-General, Ministry of Social Affairs and Solidarity of Djibouti, as part of humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, a tweet by the Indian mission in Djibouti said.

Srivastava said as per its schedule, INS AIRAVAT had earlier delivered 100 MT of food aid after reaching Port Sudan on November 2.

Thereafter, it reached Massawa Port in Eritrea on November 6 and delivered 50 MT of food aid meant for that country.

"This gesture of the government of India has been greatly appreciated by the countries concerned," he said.

In continuation of the ongoing humanitarian mission ''Sagar-II'', Indian Naval Ship Airavat arrived at Port of Djibouti on November 10, 2020, a defence ministry statement said.

The government is providing assistance to friendly countries to overcome natural calamities and the COVID-19 pandemic, and towards the same INS Airavat carried food aid for the people of Djibouti, it said.

The Mission Sagar-II is aligned with the prime minister's vision of SAGAR (Security and Growth for All in the Region) and reiterates India's position as a dependable partner in Indian Ocean Region (IOR) with the Indian Navy as the first responder in the maritime domain.

The mission also highlights the importance accorded by India to relations with her maritime neighbours and further strengthens the existing bond.

To a separate question on the Vande Bharat Mission, Srivastava said as on November 12, 23.41 lakh Indians have been repatriated through different modes of the mission.