BY MEENAKSHI IYER
New Delhi– An Indian national in crisis-torn Sudan has been left in a spot after the Indian mission in Khartoum approved his evacuation request but left behind his pregnant wife who is a Sudanese national.
Boby Sebastian from Kottayam, Kerala, has been working in Khartoum for the past three years, and is married to Sudanese national Hala Muawia Mohamed Abuzaid.
“Due to current unrest in the country and deadly situation we registered evacuation request to (the) Indian Embassy in Khartoum,” Sebastian wrote in a message posted by author and migrant rights activist Rejimon Kuttappan on his social media.
“The evacuation request was successful for me but unfortunately, my wife was not listed on the selected names… I feel it is very unsafe and dangerous to leave her here (Sudan), and also she is conceiving,” the message read.
Sebastian’s Sudanese wife does not have a valid Indian visa or an OCI card at the moment.
According to Kuttappan, the couple has marriage documents, and the wife has also visited Kerala in the past.
Sebastian has requested the relevant Indian authorities to intervene, saying that there isn’t “enough time to obtain a valid Indian visa” for his wife.
Responding to Kuttappan’s tweet, Congress MP from Thiruvananthapuram, Shashi Tharoor said that he is now in direct touch with Sebastian, and has contacted External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar’s office for an emergency evacuation.
“I am in touch with him directly in Khartoum and have contacted @DrSjaishankar’s office to arrange for an emergency evacuation on a temporary permit till her OCI card can be processed,” Tharoor wrote in response to the tweet.
“MEA (Ministry of External Affairs) will probably need to coordinate with MHA (Ministry of Home Affairs) to get this done. My sympathies are with him,” Tharoor wrote.
There are approximately 4,000 Indian citizens in Sudan, and according to the Indian Embassy in Khartoum, about 1,500 of them are longtime residents.
Albert Augustine, a 48 year-old former Indian serviceman, was recently killed by a stray bullet in Sudan.
Jaishankar assured Indians trapped in Sudan that the government was making all-out efforts to get them to safety.
“Our team in Delhi is in continuous touch with Indian citizens in Sudan, advising them saying, you know, ‘It’s very difficult for everybody, but keep calm, don’t take unnecessary risk’,” he said.
Violent clashes that erupted between the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and paramilitary Rapid Support Forces on April 15, continues unabated.
According to Sudan’s Health Ministry, the violence has left at least 424 people dead and about 3,730 wounded.
Last week, the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) said the ongoing heavy fighting is putting tens of thousands of pregnant women in danger, making it too perilous to venture outside their homes to seek urgent medical care.
UNFPA estimates that there are 219,000 pregnant women in the capital city of Khartoum, the epicentre of the violence, with 24,000 of them expected to give birth in the coming weeks.
The unrest has made it extremely difficult for women to seek essential antenatal care, safe delivery services, or postnatal care, the UN agency added. (IANS)