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Arab unrest: 24-hour helpline for Indians

Posted by on February 21, 2011 0 Comment

New Delhi, Feb 21 (IANS) With popular unrest spreading in the Arab world, the Indian external affairs ministry has set up a situation room and a 24-hour helpline to assist Indians in the Middle Eastern and North African regions, home to an over five million strong Indian diaspora.

“In view of the prevailing conditions in the Gulf, West Asian and North African regions and to provide necessary facilitation to members of Indian community, a round the clock situation room has been set up,” the external affairs ministry said here Monday.

The contact details for the situation room are: +91 11 2301 5300; +91 11 2301 2113; +91 11 2301 4104; +91 11 2301 8179. One can contact through fax at +91 11 2301 8158 and email – controlroom@mea.gov.in

Round-the-clock control rooms have also been set up by Indian missions in Tripoli in Libya and Sana’a in Yemen.

The Indian government has also set up a committee to monitor the situation in Libya and prepare plans to meet any eventuality in wake of the unprecedented protest against the Muammar Gaddafi regime in that country.

“The committee would comprise foreign secretary and overseas Indian affairs secretary among others. This committee would be planning to meet any eventuality,” said Overseas Indian Affairs Minister Vayalar Ravi.

Ravi said he is in touch with External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna and Defence Minister A.K. Antony and has also spoken to the Indian ambassador in Libya about the situation there and safety of about 18,000 Indians.

“Nothing has been decided, but the committee will monitor any situation,” he said when asked whether any evacuation plan is being prepared.

With a popular revolt erupting in Yemen, the government has said its 14,000 nationals living in the Arab country are safe and issued an advisory to avoid non-essential travel to that country.

“There are around 14,000 Indians in Yemen who are reported to be safe. The ministry and the embassy in Sana’a, are following the developments closely,” Vishnu Prakash, spokesperson of the external affairs ministry, said.

The Indian embassy in Sana’a, the capital of Yemen, has set up a 24-hour helpline (+967 711 880 938) to assist Indians. One can also write to helpline@eoisanaa.com.

“Indian nationals are advised to avoid non-essential travel to Yemen for the present,” the ministry said.

Violent public protests have erupted in Yemen, threatening to overthrow Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who has been in power since 1978. Twelve people have been killed in the protests so far.

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