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Operation Safe Homecoming

Introduction 

Till 2010, India had already faced situations of evacuating citizens from other countries like Kuwait and Lebanon. India has also created a history by evacuating over 1,70,000 Indian citizens from the condition of invasion of Iraq in Kuwait. After experiencing such situations, the proper process of evacuation was understood by the Indian Armed Forces, which helped them in the imminent evacuations like the one with Libya. 


Libyan Civil War

The Libyan Civil War started with protests by the local Libyan people as they were tired of the rules imposed by Muammar Gaddafi and its Government. Their protest slowly got off the track of peace and went on a different direction. On 15th February, the protests turned into social unrest in the form of civil war, which a lousy indicator for any nation's social as well as financial health. This civil war continued till 23rd October 2011. Although the idea of this situation was derived from Tunisia and Egypt, along with connecting the Arab Spring. The Libyan people were so much frustrated with Gaddafi's autocrat that the frustration got blast off in such a situation that no one had ever expected. This civil war caught nationals from other countries to forcefully held up in a war zone. 

The Operation 

About 18,000 Indian citizens who were working in India got trapped in this mishap. Leaving the country was the last way, but the question that raised was how. Most people were trying to evacuate the place, so they reached the central airport at Tripoli but the Libyan authorities closed it.  Using the second option, which was Benina International Airport, was not possible as its runway was destroyed. All the Libyan ports were also shut down. Libya had visitors travelling from many countries. So many airlines from around the globe like British Airlines had its operations in Libya. But eventually, due to unrest, they also had to cancel their flights. There were no ways of coming out of the country without any help. So the Indian Government took charge of getting its people back to India and began Operation Safe Homecoming as soon as possible. They promptly ordered three Indian Navy ships, including two destroyers INS Mysore and INS Aditya and amphibious vessel, INS Jalashwa, to leave Mumbai and reach Libya. However, getting so many people in these ships was impossible. So they hired two boats, MV Scotia Prince and La Superba having a capacity of 1,200 and 1,600 passengers respectively to reach Libya from their origin, which was Sicily. On 28th February, MV Scotia Prince reached Benghazi. Both the Navy and charter ships evacuated the people and sailed them from Tripoli and Benghazi to Alexandria and Egypt. The Air India flights flew them from there to India. The Indian Navy reached the Libya coast on 8th March 2011. Although most of the evacuation was carried out previously, so they were not much used. Two aircraft, a Boing 747 and Airbus 330 of Air India, flew from India to Tripoli after getting permission from the Libyan authorities. These flights carried around 500 passengers to New Delhi and Mumbai. Because there were 2,000 people more to evacuate from Sirte and Sabha, the Indian Government forced Libyan authorities to provide rights to land aircraft in these and evacuate their people. On 2nd March 2011, the Indian Government ordered all the private airlines to fly at least one flight to Libya to help in this cause. So Jet Airways and Kingfisher Airlines began to operate from 3rd March to get back the evacuees ferried to Malta from the airport of Luqa. An II-76 cargo aircraft of Indian Air force flew to Sirte and took the Indian from there to Cairo and from they were rescued by other airlines. Many Indian citizens travelled to neighbouring countries like Salloum and Egypt from Tobruk via land route and met the Indian embassy's officials at the borders. They were in charge of arranging their comeback to India. 


Conclusion 

The Indian Government sustained all the expenses of evacuating the people. India had already experienced such situations, so they had an idea of how to evacuate such a big crowd from a war zoned country. Although there were some new hurdles in the process, they managed to overcome them. Organisations that took active participation in this mission were Air India, Indian Navy, Indian Air force and some private airlines like Jet Airways and Kingfisher. 


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12 Comment
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