Thiruvananthapuram: A total of 1,723 Keralites have been brought back from Yemen following the fighting there but many more are yet to return, State Minister for Diaspora K.C.Joseph said on Wednesday.
Speaking to reporters here, he said two flights were leaving from Djibouti later Wednesday for India and another 600 Indians were waiting at the airport there to fly back.
"See, the biggest problem today is neither the Indian embassy there nor the centre or the state governments have any clue about the exact number of Keralites who remain in Yemen," he said.
"Today the points of exit in Yemen are Sana'a airport and three ports and the embassy has informed Keralites who are working in the interior parts to make arrangements to reach these places of exit."
"The biggest advantage is that both -- the Saudi authorities and the rebel forces -- there are showing consideration to our people and it is only with the help of these people that they can arrive at the places of exit," said Joseph.
The minister said due to operational issues, at times the flights that land in Mumbai do have a large number of Keralites.
"Yesterday (Tuesday) there were 300 Keralites waiting at the Mumbai airport who arrived from Yemen for their onward journey to Kerala. Due to constraints of seats, 66 of them were put on various flights that left for Kerala airport today."
"A total of 116 of them were put on two air conditioned coaches of a train, bound for Kerala. The rest of them are refusing to go to the Kerala House there and are protesting."
"See, we are doing our level best, tomorrow we have decided to hire a chartered flight to bring them and those who are arriving later in the day," added Joseph.
He said the government is sympathetic to the requests made by these people. But even after Chief Minister Oommen Chandy spoke to two central ministers to ensure that Mumbai bound flights are also sent to Kochi, at times it doesn't happen
"The train that left today had 150 seats, but only 116 of them opted to travel on the train," said Joseph.