Kochi: Three Keralites, who were stranded in strife-torn Yemen, returned home on Monday morning.
Lijo of Erattupetta and Jacob Korah of Kanjirappally reached the Cochin International Airport via Doha by Qatar Airway this morning while Ruben Jacob Chandy, a native of Changanassery, arrived in the Thiruvananthapuram International airport.
Lijo told reporters that he returned on his own expenses with the help of the Indian Embassy in Yemen.
Rueban Jacob Chandy said the atmosphere is not conducive to live in Yemen with food and water becoming increasingly scarse.
"I worked with a Dubai-based oil company in (Yemen capital) Sanna. I was the only Indian in the company, which gave me a ticket to fly home. the day before yesterday (Saturday) around 79 people boarded a Yemen airline flight and flew to Djibouti. We were put on a Qatar Airways flight to Doha and then I reached here," Chandy said.
"All those who flew from Yemen had to buy their own tickets. The condition is difficult in the country. The Indian embassy is doing its best to help people. Sanaa is in hilly terrain...there is heavy bombing in these areas after sunset and it continues till sunrise," said Chandy.
Diaspora Minister K.C. Joseph has said the ban on flying through Saudi Arabian airspace is a hurdle.
"Two Air India planes have been waiting at two airports in the Middle East to reach Yemen after they get clearance. The Indian embassy is working hard and is ensuring that Indians take these flights," Joseph said.
Joseph refuted reports that those who were returning have to buy their own tickets.
"Evacuation is done for free. People do not have to spend money till they reach home. People should understand that the only way we have for a safe evacuation is through diplomatic options. We are doing everything possible," Joseph added.
Apart from the two aircraft, two Indian ships have also departed for the evacuation exercise, he said.
"If we are able to airlift stranded people, we will do it. We are doing our best," added Joseph.
There are around 3,000 Indians in Yemen waiting to return, of whom half are nurses from Kerala.