New Delhi, March 27: Diplomat Dilbag Singh’s cellphone has rung nearly 200 times every day this past week in Sana’a, with anxious calls from families of Indian nurses and workers desperate to return from war-torn Yemen.
But responding to their concerns is the easier part of his job.
Between receiving these calls, Singh and his colleagues at India’s mission in Yemen are plotting strategies for a familiar but tougher battle — plucking out from a war-zone those unwilling to leave.
They can’t force the reluctant among the 3,500 Indians in Yemen to leave while the Sana’a airport is still functional, and while the country’s major ports remain operational.
Yet they know that if the war spreads further, as looks likely, it will be their duty to yank out from the country those who are ignoring their advice now but will later realise the dangers of staying back.
“There’s so little we can do,” Singh, the No. 2 at the embassy in Yemen after ambassador Amrit Lagun, told The Telegraph from Sana’a. “They aren’t legally bound to listen to us, or even reach out to us.”
It’s a problem without easy solutions for New Delhi at a time Indian diplomats here and in Sana’a are speaking of a growing consensus within the government that ships would need to be deployed to evacuate those willing to leave.
The government, after sputtering in its initial diplomatic and evacuation responses to the Yemen civil war, now plans to ship Indians out from the ports of Al Hudaydah (on the Red Sea coast) and Aden to the African country of Djibouti, and then fly th