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Spotlight: Chinese navy succeeds in 1st overseas evacuation mission for foreigners

Xinhua, April 4, 2015 Adjust font size:

With 225 foreign nationals arrived in Djibouti aboard Linyi missile frigate this week, the Chinese navy completed its first overseas evacuation operation for foreign nationals.

The special rescue effort by the Chinese government to evacuate foreign citizens embody the government's people-first principle and the spirit of internationalism and humanitarianism, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying told a press briefing on Friday.

Linyi missile frigate, carrying 225 people from 10 countries -- Pakistan, Ethiopia, Singapore, Italy, Germany, Poland, Ireland, Britain, Canada and Yemen -- departed Yemen for Djibouti before noon on Thursday and arrived after nearly eight hours of sailing.

In the group, 176 people are from Pakistan, 29 from Ethiopia, five from Singapore, four from Poland, three each from Italy and Germany, two from Britain, one each from Canada, Ireland and Yemen.

Mudassir Waseem, a 13-year-old Pakistani, told Xinhua aboard Linyi that he could not restrain his delight for going back home.

On Friday, the 176 Pakistani nationals arrived in Islamabad aboard a Pakistan International Airlines plane.

A Pakistani evacuee known as Nawaz told Xinhua upon arrival that "I have had a hard time in Yemen ... I want to thank China for its help in evacuating non-Chinese people ... China has proved again with its action that we are friends and brothers."

The 48-year-old man, who has been working in Yemen's capital of Sanaa for 15 years, missed the Pakistani evacuation on Sunday.

"When I saw the (Pakistani) plane leaving, I felt desperate," he said, "but when I know the Chinese military vessel may come to the Port of Aden, I was excited though I'm not sure at that time whether the Chinese vessel would receive foreigners or not."

"But I believe China will help us this time, as the old friend has always done before," he said.

"As all-weather friends, Pakistan and Chinese cooperation in ensuring safe evacuation of our citizens has also been exemplary," Pakistani Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Tasnim Aslam said Friday.

"To ensure earliest possible evacuation, we enlisted Chinese support, since their ships were already in the region evacuating their nationals from Aden to Djibouti," she said.

Poland, Singapore and other countries have also expressed their gratitude to China for providing assistance in evacuating their nationals from Yemen.

"The evacuation of Polish citizens from Yemen was possible thanks to effective and efficient cooperation of Polish diplomacy representatives and their Chinese counterparts," said an official statement.

Chinese warships have also helped evacuate eight nationals of Romania, India and Egypt while evacuating Chinese citizens.

More than 500 Chinese evacuees from conflict-ridden Yemen have arrived at the Djibouti port.

The first group of 122 Chinese nationals were evacuated from the Yemeni city of Aden and arrived in Djibouti on Sunday night onboard Linyi, which also took two foreign employees of Chinese enterprises.

The Weifang missile frigate and Weishanhu supply ship evacuated 449 Chinese nationals and six foreign employees of Chinese enterprises in Yemen's Port of Hodeidah on Monday and have arrived at the Port of Djibouti.

The fleet was on an escort mission in the Gulf of Aden when it was ordered to carry out the evacuation. The three Chinese naval ships now have returned to the Gulf of Aden and waters off Somalia to continue the escort mission.

Security sharply deteriorated in Yemen since early March when conflicts erupted in several provinces in the country's southern regions.

The Shiite Houthi group launched attacks on Aden city, which President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi declared as temporary capital after he fled weeks of house arrest by the Houthis in Sanaa.

A Saudi-led coalition started airstrikes on Houthi targets in Sanaa and other cities, saying the multinational action was to protect Hadi's legitimacy and force the Houthis to retreat from cities it seized since September 2014. Endi