The Indian Mission in Juba is in regular touch with Indian nationals and their employers in South Sudan, which was hit by a civil war between two ethnic groups. Going by the latest reports coming in from Juba, most Indians, including 68 from Tamil Nadu, there, have decided to ride out the conflict, according to the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA).
India has lost peacekeepers in the conflict, as have some other nations, amidst a growing debate over the inability to arrest the killers as well as the tendency to keep major troop contributing countries such as India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, out of the decision making loop, when deciding on the kind of mandate that will be employed in an affected area.
The Indian workforce at Palouge, where most are from Tamil Nadu, continues to remain deployed in the most critical area of oil production. The contracting company and South Sudan’s Ministry of Petroleum has told Indian Ambassador Pramod Bajaj that they will look after the safety and security of these Indians and their evacuation, if need be. As yet, no fighting has taken place there. The South Sudan Petroleum Minister had visited Palouge and met some Indian employees on December 26, the day 100 Chinese were evacuated. The Government has already tightened security at the oil fields in the region.
In Unity State, Russia’s Safinat Caspian Oil Refining Company, which employs four Indians, has assured that it would evacuate Indian and Russian nationals together. Seventeen Indians in Wau working for Omaski Borehole Company want to stay as the situation is peaceful.
In Juba, 40 Indians are with a Dubai-based company contracted by U.N. Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) to supply fuel to its locations in Juba and elsewhere. In addition, there are about 100 more Indian nationals in Juba. All of them are staying on even after an Indian Embassy advisory asked them to leave.