1019 stranded Pakistanis have been evacuated from Yemen in the last ten days by three special flights, three naval evacuations and a land evacuation, through neighboring Oman, there may still be an estimated 100-150 Pakistanis still left in the country, these are mostly the ones who have chosen to stay on. The emergency evacuation operation has thus effectively culminated on 7th April, 2015, since we do not have any more compatriots registered for evacuation.
2. As was the case with the emergency evacuation undertaken for the Pakistanis stranded in Libya, by the Crisis Management Cell (CMC), last year, the current operation has been noteworthy in many ways. This was the first wide scale evacuation from Yemen, through special flights and Navy ships, during the current crisis, and the first to conclude successfully, safely bringing back all nationals wanting to evacuate at a minimal cost to the national exchequer. It would not have been possible to carry out such a formidable undertaking, without the un-interrupted guidance and support of the Prime Minister, and the excellent coordination among all concerned departments, including, Civil Aviation Authority, PIA, Ministry of Defense (Pakistan Navy in particular), Ministry of Overseas Pakistanis, as well as, our Embassies in Sana’a, Muscat, Addis Ababa, Beijing and Riyadh.
3. There were around 3000 Pakistanis residing in Yemen before the current crisis. However, in response to various advisories sent by the mission, in the wake of evolving security situation, the community members started leaving Yemen gradually, and only around 1200 Pakistanis remained in the country when airstrikes campaign by GCC coalition commenced on March 26, 2015. Over 900 of these registered with the embassy for immediate evacuation. They were mostly located in Sana’a, Al Hudeida, Aden and Mokallah.
4. Given the continued aerial bombings, an elaborateplanin consultation with CAA and PIA was devised, whereby; the Embassy brought all the stranded Pakistanis in Sana’a to “Al Hudeida” where the airport was still functional for onward airlift. A special exemption from Saudi government was obtained for the “No Fly” restriction imposed on Yemeni airspace, along with the ground clearances from local authorities. In a daring operation on 29th March, over 500 Pakistanis were airlifted through a special PIA B 747 flight.
5. Since most airports in Yemen had become dysfunctional with heavy fighting going on, therefore, two Pakistan Navy vessels, “Aslat’ and “Shamsheer” were dispatched to the region for evacuating the stranded Pakistanis in Aden and Mokallah, scheduled to arrive on 3rdand 4thApril. However, the renewed fighting and bombings in Aden necessitated earlier evacuation. It was, therefore, decided to enlist Chinese assistance, since their ships were already undertaking evacuation of their citizen from Aden. An elaborate coordination with the Chinese authorities, through our Mission in Beijing, their Embassy in Islamabad and the Chinese Consulate in Aden, enabled the CMC to organize the evacuation of 186 Pakistanis from Aden tonearby Djibouti on 2nd April, 2015. A Camp Office was set up there by our Embassy in Ethiopia for arranging disembarkation, immigration, transit, and transfer to the airport. In a well-organized operation, a special PIA A310 flight airlifted 186 compatriots back to Islamabad on April 3, 2015 where arrangements were in place for their reception and onward travel.
6. PNS“Aslat” was directed to Mokallah, instead of Aden, to evacuate 148 Pakistanis stranded there. On April 2, when the ship approached Mokallah, the city witnessed a sudden spate of violence in the wake of an attempted jail break by the local chapter of “Al Qaeda”. An alternative plan was immediately devised, whereby the ship was sent to a nearby small port of “Ash Shihir” and the stranded Pakistanis embarked the ship by a ferry. Around 30 foreign nationals, including 8 Chinese, 11 Indians and some Europeans were also evacuated, following requests by their respective countries. The ship arrived Karachi on 7th April, 2015, where all arrangements for reception, immigration and onward travel had been made.
7. Meanwhile, in Sana’a, all those community members, who could not join the road journey organized by the Embassy for airlift from Al Hudeida, for one reason or the other, were desperate to leave the city followingcontinued air bombings. While Sana’a airport had been partially damaged, it retained limited functionality to handle narrow bodied jet flights. Therefore, a PIA A310 flight was planned after obtaining special exemption of “No Fly” restriction. Initially, 178 Pakistanis registered for evacuation. However, only 134 subsequently boarded the special PIA flight to Islamabad as some were persuaded to stay back by their respective employers. Four foreign nationals were also evacuated at the request of their governments.
Other Sea and Land Evacuations
8. PNS“Shamsheer”, which left for Yemen on March 30, 2015, was directed to head to “Al Hudeida” where a small group of Pakistanis had gathered from nearby cities. Accordingly, on 6thApril, 2015, a total of 36 Pakistanis and 15 foreign nationals were evacuated and taken to Djibouti for onward travel back home. Our Ambassador in Addis Ababa is in Djibouti to ensure all required arrangements for their transit and onward travel.
9. Also, 12 Pakistanis stranded at Yemen-Oman border were evacuated by a special team sent by our Embassy in Oman on April 6, 2015. They were subsequently sent to Pakistan via Muscat.
10. Seamless implementation of a historic emergency evacuation mission, under Prime Minister’s leadership and supervision, has ensured a safe return for all our stranded citizens in Yemen and earned laurels for the country, with a number of foreign nationals having been rescued and returned to their countries.
April 10, 2015
Last modified: November 19, 2019
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