Warship arrives to evacuate Chinese nationals from Yemen
Updated: 2015-03-30 11:35
People search for survivors under the rubble of houses destroyed by an air strike near Sanaa Airport, March 26, 2015. [Photo/Agencies]
China has sent a naval fleet to help evacuate Chinese diplomats, medical staff and technicians from conflict-ridden Yemen as the situation continues to get worse, the Ministry of National Defense announced on Monday.
The People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy fleet, which had been carrying out escort missions in the Gulf of Aden and Somali waters, was dispatched for the evacuation on Sunday, according to the ministry. It is first time the navy fleet has suspended escort missions since China sent its first fleet to the Gulf of Aden and Somali waters in December 2008.
There are about 590 Chinese nationals in Yemen, Chinese ambassador to Yemen Tian Qi said, adding that no nationals were known to have been killed or injured.
Chinese nationals in Yemen include embassy personnel, overseas students, 58 medical workers, three journalists and technicians from Chinese companies in oil exploration, communication and other industries in Yemen.
The latest Chinese naval fleet left on Dec 2 to conduct escort missions in the Gulf of Aden and Somali waters. The fleet is made up of missile frigates Linyi and Weifang, and the supply ship Weishanhu, which has two helicopters and more than 700 troops.
The decision was made by the Chinese government in a bid to protect the safety of Chinese nationals and their property, a statement announcing the deployment said.
Foreign Minister Wang Yi confirmed China has begun preparations for evacuating Chinese nationals from Yemen while attending the annual Boao Forum for Asia conference in Hainan province on Sunday, assuring that all Chinese nationals soon be on their way home.
It is Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen are battling Saudi-supported government loyalists for control of the country in a conflict that has escalated in recent months. Violence is leading to fears of a civil war that could lead to a regional conflict.
More than 200 members of staff from the United Nations, foreign embassies and other organizations were evacuated by air after a third night of heavy airstrikes on Saturday. Pakistan also said it was preparing to evacuate citizens and diplomatic staff, according to agencies.
As early as February, both the United States and United Kingdom had shut down their embassies in Yemen.