External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said India's ships and aircraft are set to bring the Indians back home

India has launched ‘Operation Kaveri’ to evacuate its citizens caught up in the conflict in Sudan, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said on Monday, after nearly 500 Indians reached the main seaport of the North-Eastern African country.

A patrol vessel of the Indian Navy, the INS Sumedha, is already waiting at Port Sudan and is likely to ferry the citizens to Jeddah in Saudi Arabia. Two C-130J transport aircraft of the Indian Air Force (IAF) are also on standby in Jeddah to fly them to India.

France also evacuated some Indian citizens while repatriating its own nationals from Sudan aboard military aircraft, Paris’ diplomatic mission in New Delhi tweeted on Monday. Earlier, Saudi Arabia evacuated three Indians along with its own nationals and citizens of other countries on Saturday.

“Operation Kaveri gets underway to bring back our citizens stranded in Sudan,” Jaishankar posted on Twitter on Monday, adding, “About 500 Indians have reached Port Sudan. More on their way.” He also posted a picture of Indian citizens after they apparently reached somewhere near Port Sudan on the Red Sea.

“Our ships and aircraft are set to bring them back home. Committed to assisting all our brethren in Sudan,” he said.

The Embassy of India in Khartoum arranged the transportation of citizens to Port Sudan, over 800 kilometres from the capital of Sudan.

Sudan has been witnessing fierce fighting between the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) led by Gen Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) loyal to his rival Gen Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo.

Though the SAF and the RSF had agreed to a ceasefire on the occasion of Eid-ul-Fitr, fighting continued on the streets of Khartoum.

A source in New Delhi said that continued fighting in violation of the ceasefire made it difficult to move Indians towards the port. The airspace of Sudan remained closed for all foreign aircraft. With the runways at the international airport in Khartoum being damaged on the first day of the fighting, the sea route was the only option for evacuation in large numbers. Most of the other nations also opted for the same route, added the source.

The United States used military helicopters to evacuate diplomats from its embassy.