In April 2015, Indian Armed Forces launched a humanitarian rescue operation called Operation Rahat to evacuate its citizens from Yemen on a war-footing. The rescue operation was probably one of the toughest for India and probably one of the most stellar rescue missions ever conducted in a strife-torn area internationally, since there were many stakeholders in the war: Shia Houthi rebels, Al-Qaeda, Yemen, and Saudi Arabia. In such a scenario it could be extremely difficult and confusing for any rescue team since no one knows who the enemy really is.
The Operation Rahat has impressed The Royal Navy of the United Kingdom so much that it wants to study it, officially.
In a short span of ten days, Indian Armed Forced rescued over 5,600 people including 960 foreign nationals from 41 countries.
“The operation was phenomenally successful. India also rescued our citizens from Yemen. The evacuations were done in record time. This is so inspiring that we now want to get associated with the Indian Navy to engage in combined humanitarian relief work,” Captain Stuart Borland, naval and air adviser to the Royal Navy, told The Sunday Guardian.
During the operation, India took the lead in the rescue of foreigners trapped in Yemen, evacuating more than 550 foreigners from 32 countries, including a dozen Americans and three Pakistanis. Operation Rahat impressed the world and countries like Sweden, Djibouti, Hungary, Nepal, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Netherlands, the Philippines, Romania, Slovenia, Bahrain, Czech Republic, Cuba, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Turkey, sought India’s help in evacuating their citizens.
At the time of Operation Rahat, Yemen was in the midst of spiraling crisis. The Saudi-led offensive had caused complete shutdown of all flights in and out of the country along with blockade of main seaports and closure of embassies.
Indian efforts were anchored by a government team deployed in the tiny Red Sea state of Djibouti. It involved combined air, sea and rail operations.
India’s coordination and presence was such that the U.S. Embassy advised American nationals to seek Indian assistance to leave Sanaa, the Yemeni capital, which was under rebel control and has come under heavy bombardment by the Saudi-led coalition.
The operation saw seamless co-operation between the Ministry of External Affairs, Indian Navy, Indian Air Force, Air India, Ministry of Shipping, Ministry of Railways and the state governments.
Some of the warships that were pressed into service were the guided missile destroyer INS Mumbai, INS Sumitra, and they entered the Yemeni ports in record time and took onboard the maximum number of passengers in the shortest available time span.
Many foreign ambassadors and naval chiefs had thanked India for the outstanding rescue mission.