New Delhi, July 12: Yemeni Deputy Prime Minister Abdulmalik Abduljalil Al-Mekhlafi on Tuesday called on External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj in New Delhi and appreciated India’s steadfast support for Yemen during difficult times, including India’s humanitarian assistance. However, Sushma Swaraj conveyed India's concern over the safety of Father Tom Uzhunnalil, who was abducted in April last year from Aden.
Notably, Minister Sushma Swaraj during the bilateral talk reiterated the request for continued assistance from the Yemeni authorities in securing safe and early release of Father Tom Uzhunnalil. The Yemeni Deputy PM also conveyed that as per available information, Father Tom was alive and the Yemen Government has been making all efforts to secure his release. He assured all cooperation in this regard.
The Yemeni Deputy PM also highlighted that India continued to welcome Yemeni nationals, especially for higher studies and medical treatment. Further, he requested an increase in slots for Yemeni students as also facilitation of medical visas for the Yemeni patients as India has been their most preferred destination.
On the other side, Sushma Swaraj assured all possible assistance, including through supply of much-needed medicines at Yemen’s request. She further conveyed that as a special gesture, ICCR’s scholarship slots for Yemen would be increased from the existing 35 to 55 annually. She also offered 50 ITEC slots for Yemen for 2017-18.
Minister Swaraj also thanked the Government of Yemen on this occasion for their wholehearted cooperation and support in the evacuation of Indian and foreign nationals from Yemen under the well-acknowledged "Operation Raahat” conducted by Government of India in March-April 2015.
Father Uzhunnalil was abducted in March by Islamic State operatives when they attacked an old-age home run by Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity in the southern Yemeni city of Aden. At least 15 people at the old-age home were killed in the attack including four nuns of the Missionaries of Charity, one of them from India.