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Unstarred Question No.1475, Chabahar-Zaheden Railways Line, Lok Sabha, 10 February 2021.
1475. SHRI GAURAV GOGOI:
Will the Minister of External Affairs be pleased to state:
(a) whether Chabahar-Zaheden railway line was envisioned to be constructed in Iran with India’s partnership and engagement and if so, the details thereof;
(b) whether the Government is aware of the construction of the Chabahar-Zaheden railway line by Iran independently and if so, the details thereof;
(c) whether this railway line was pivotal to India’s strategic interest in connecting the country to Afghanistan and Central Asia and if so, the details thereof;
(d) whether such construction without India will impact India’s interest in the region, especially in reference to Pakistan’s Gwadar port and if so, the details thereof; and
(e) the action plan of the Government in this regard?
ANSWER: THE MINISTER OF STATE IN THE MINISTRY OF EXTERNAL AFFAIRS [SHRI V. MURALEEDHARAN]
(a) to (e) During the visit of the Prime Minister to Iran in May 2016, a MoU was signed between IRCON International Limited of India and the Construction, Development of Transport and Infrastructure Company (CDTIC) of Iran for the construction of the Chabahar-Zahedan Railway Project.
The Chabahar-Zahedan Railway project, a joint collaboration between the Governments of India and Iran, is to provide faster connectivity from the Chabahar Port in Iran to Afghanistan and further to Central Asia. It will bolster the existing connectivity by road from the Chabahar port to Afghanistan.
India and Iran remain engaged on the modalities of the implementation of the Chabahar-Zahedan Railway Project, as well as other developmental projects in Iran. Source: Ministry of External Affairs (MEA).
Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi speaks to His Excellency Benjamin Netanyahu, Prime Minister of Israel, New Delhi, 01 February 2021.
Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi spoke to His Excellency Benjamin Netanyahu, Prime Minister of Israel on telephone today.
Prime Minister conveyed his strong condemnation of the terror attack near the Israeli Embassy in New Delhi on 29 January 2021. He assured Prime Minister Netanyahu that India accords the highest importance to the safety and security of Israeli diplomats and premises, and would deploy all its resources to find and punish the perpetrators. Both leaders expressed satisfaction about the close coordination between Indian and Israeli security agencies in this context.
The two leaders also briefed each other about the progress of the fight against COVID-19 pandemic in their respective countries, and discussed possibilities of further collaboration in this area. Source: Ministry of External Affairs (MEA).
Telephone conversation between Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi and His Majesty Sultan Haitham Bin Tarik, Sultan of Oman, New Delhi, 17 February 2021.
Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi spoke with His Majesty Sultan Haitham Bin Tarik, Sultan of Oman over phone earlier today.
His Majesty the Sultan expressed his appreciation for the COVID-19 vaccines supplied by India to Oman. The leaders agreed to maintain close cooperation in the joint fight against the pandemic.
Prime Minister congratulated the Sultan on completion of one year of his reign and for his Vision 2040 for Oman.
The leaders expressed satisfaction about the growing India-Oman cooperation in all areas including defence, health, trade and investment.
Both leaders appreciated the role of the Indian diaspora in enhancing the economic and cultural ties between the two strategic partners. Source: Ministry of External Affairs (MEA).
Government of India Funds Four Quick Impact Projects in Palestine, Ramallah, 16 February 2021.
As part of India’s developmental partnership with Palestine, and within the framework of Government of India’s Quick Impact Project Scheme (QIP), Representative Office of India signed agreements for funding four Quick Impact Projects to be implemented through local partnerships with Aqraba Municipality, Beitunia Municipality, Ramallah Municipality, and Young Scientists Club (Al-Muntada).
During an official ceremony organized at the Representative Office of India in Ramallah,
Representative of India Shri Sunil Kumar signed the MoU’s with Mayor of Aqraba Mr. Ghaleb Mayadmeh, Mayor of Beitunia Mr. Ribhi Doleh, Mayor of Ramallah Eng. Musa Haddid, and President of the Young Scientists Club (Al- Muntada) Prof. Waleed Dheeb. Based on the signed MoU’s, the Government of India will provide USD 200,000 (two-hundred thousand) for the Rehabilitation of the Yasser Arafat Square in Ramallah, Establishing of a Municipal Nursery in Beitunia, Construction of Children Park in Aqraba and Integration of Technology in Education with Al-Muntada.
Representative of India underlined India’s developmental support to Palestine, stating that: “Our two countries relations are destined to reach new horizons because they are relations based on friendship, goodwill and respect. India will continue to support and partner with Palestine in developmental and nation building endeavours”.
It’s worth noting that the Government of India extends various engagement programmes to Palestine, including developmental/project assistance worth USD 70 Million in vital sectors of education, institution building, health, capacity building and women empowerment. Source: Embassy of India, Ramallah.
Fourth Foreign Office Consultations with the State of Qatar, New Delhi, 01 February 2021.
The fourth Foreign Office Consultations between India and Qatar were held virtually on February 1, 2021. The Indian side was led by Shri Sanjay Bhattacharyya, Secretary (CPV & OIA), Ministry of External Affairs, New Delhi and the Qatari side was led by Dr. Ahmad Hassan Al-Hamadi, Secretary General, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, State of Qatar.
Both sides expressed satisfaction that despite the Covid-19 pandemic they have kept in close touch including the telephone conversations between Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi and the Amir of Qatar and the visit of External Affairs Minister to Qatar in December 2020. These gave new momentum to bilateral relations. Secretary (CPV & OIA) thanked the Qatari side for taking care of the Indian community in Qatar during the pandemic.
The Foreign Office Consultations provided an opportunity to review the entire gamut of bilateral relations, including political, energy, trade, investments, defence, food security, health security, science and technology, consular, community and cultural issues. Both sides reiterated their commitment to working closely together in these areas and further discussing new areas of cooperation. The two sides also exchanged views on issues of mutual interest at the regional and multilateral levels, including cooperation at the UN and other international fora.
Both sides agreed to convene the first Joint Commission Meeting at Foreign Minister level at an early date. Source: Embassy of India, Doha.
Inaugural SOM of the Committee on Political, Security, Social and Cultural Cooperation with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, New Delhi, 03 February 2021.
The inaugural Senior Official Meeting (SOM) of the Committee on Political, Security, Social and Cultural Cooperation (PSSC) under the aegis of the India-Saudi Arabia Agreement for Strategic Partnership Council was held virtually on February 3, 2021. The Indian side was led by Shri Sanjay Bhattacharyya, Secretary (CPV & OIA), Ministry of External Affairs, New Delhi and the Saudi side was led by Dr. Adel Siraj Merdad, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs for Political and Economic Affairs, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Both sides referred to the visit of the PM Shri Narendra Modi to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in October 2019 and highlighted that the Strategic Partnership Council reflects the desire of the leadership of both sides to impart further momentum to this important relationship.
The SOM provided an opportunity to discuss and review various areas of cooperation between the two countries and mechanisms of work. Both sides agreed to give impetus to the work of existing mechanisms and establish Joint Working Groups for regular dialogue covering various fields such as political, consular, Haj, defence, security, culture, health and education. Discussions have also been held under the Committee on Economy and Investment between the two sides.
The two senior officials noted the close cooperation between the two countries during the Covid-19 pandemic. Secretary (CPV&OIA) thanked Saudi side for taking care of the Indian community during Covid-19 and hoped that both sides would finalize an air bubble arrangement soon. The Saudi side thanked India for standing by Saudi Arabia during the pandemic including on facilitating travel of Indian healthcare professionals to Saudi Arabia. It looked forward to supply of India-made Covid vaccine to Saudi Arabia.
Both sides agreed to convene the next SOM at an early date. Source: Ministry of External Affairs (MEA).
India delivers humanitarian assistance to Syria, New Delhi, 12 February 2021.
In response to a request from the Government of the Syrian Arab Republic for emergency humanitarian assistance, Government of India is gifting 2000 MT of rice to strengthen food security in Syria. The first consignment of 1000 MT of rice was handed over by Ambassador of India to Syria Dr. Hifzur Rahman to the Minister of Local Administration and Head of Supreme Relief Committee Mr. Hussain Makhlouf yesterday at Latakia Port. The remaining 1000 MT of rice is expected to reach Syria on February 18, 2021.
2. India and Syria have historically enjoyed close and friendly relations. The Government of India has always stood in solidarity with the people of Syria, and our bilateral engagement has continued apace even during the years of internal conflict there through a number of development and capacity building projects. Earlier, India had gifted 10 MT of medicines in July 2020 to Syria as part of Covid assistance. Over 500 Syrians benefited from the artificial limbs (Jaipur foot) fitment camp organised by the Ministry of External Affairs in partnership with Bhagwan Mahaveer Viklang Sahayata Samiti (BMVSS) in Damascus during January 2020. During the academic years 2018-19 and 2019-20, 1000 scholarships were extended to Syrian students for pursuing bachelors, masters and post-doctoral programmes in Indian universities under 'Study in India' initiative. India is also establishing a NextGen Centre for Information Technology in Damascus, for which preparatory work has commenced. Source: Ministry of External Affairs (MEA).
Embassy Press Release, Abu Dhabi, 98 February 2021.
Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Govt. of India’s representatives along with a team of representatives of Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) visited UAE from 6-8 February 2021 to oversee the progress made, interact with Expo 2020 organisers from the UAE side, and deliberate with key stakeholders in UAE to reaffirm their partnership in contributing to the success of the India pavilion at Expo 2020.
H.E. Shri Pavan Kapoor, Ambassador of India to UAE and Consul General Dr. Aman Puri accompanied by Shri Darpan Jain, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Shri Dilip Chenoy, Secretary General, FICCI, Dr. Gunveena Chaddha, Assistant Secretary General, FICCI visited the site of India pavilion.
The visiting team had discussions with Mr. Omar Shehadeh, Chief International Participants Officer, Expo 2020 and Mr. Nasser Fakhro, Country Manager, India, Expo 2020 and with the team of National Buildings Construction Corporation (NBCC) and City Diamond Contracting (CDC), the contracting firm building the Indian pavilion at Expo 2020.
The visiting team conveyed their satisfaction at the progress of India pavilion and were assured that the project is on schedule. Expo 2020 organisers also conveyed about various opportunities for India to host events at common venues, where large events could be hosted.
The delegation also interacted with key stakeholders such as Tata Group, Lulu Group, GEMS Group, the Landmark Group, Conares Steel, Lals Group, RP Group, SFC Group, ITL Cosmos, and with associations such as Indian Business and Professional Group (IBPG), Abu Dhabi, Indian Business and Professional Council (IBPC), Dubai and Persons of Indian Origin Chambers of Commerce and Industries (PIOCCI) during their visit to UAE. Several other meetings with Educational institutions, and representatives of BAPS Hindu Mandir, Abu Dhabi also took place.
The visiting team discussed various forms of support to ensure that there is not only a strong local flavour imparted to the Indian participation at the Dubai Expo, but also to ensure that there is an enduring contribution to the trade and investment relationship between India and UAE that goes well beyond the Expo. Source: Embassy of India, Abu Dhabi.
Indian Navy Ship Pralaya Arrives in Abu Dhabi, UAE to participate in NAVDEX 21 and IDEX, New Delhi, 19 February 2021.
Indian Naval Ship Pralaya arrived at Abu Dhabi, UAE today 19 Feb 21 to participate in the NAVDEX 21 (Naval Defence Exhibition) and IDEX 21 (International Defence Exhibition), scheduled from 20 to 25 February 2021.
INS Pralaya, the second ship of the indigenously built Prabal Class Missile Vessels, was commissioned in the Indian Navy on 18 December 2002. The 56 m long ship, displacing about 560 T is capable of speeds in excess of 35 knots and is fitted with an impressive array of weapons and sensors. These include a 76.2 mm medium range gun, 30 mm close range guns, chaff launchers and long range surface to surface missiles. The ship, built indigenously at Goa Shipyard Limited, bears testimony to capabilities of the Indian ship building industry and is a versatile platform capable of performing a wide variety of surface warfare missions.
Participation of INS Pralaya in NAVDEX 21 and IDEX 21, one of the leading international naval and defence exhibitions of the region, is aimed at showcasing the strengths of India’s indigenous ship building, in line with Hon’ble Prime Minister’s vision of ‘AtmaNirbhar Bharat’. In addition, participation of an Indian Navy Ship in NAVDEX 21 and IDEX 21 also highlights close relations between India and UAE.
Defence relations between India and UAE have been steadily growing since the upgradation of bilateral relations to a ‘Comprehensive Strategic Partnership’ during the visit of Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan in January 2017 as Chief Guest at India’s Republic Day celebrations. Towards enhancing interactions between the two navies, inaugural edition of Indian Navy – UAE Navy bilateral exercise GULF STAR - 1 was conducted in March 2018. The next edition of the exercise is likely to be conducted in 2021. In addition, Indian Navy ships have been making regular port calls at UAE for promoting maritime cooperation. INS Mysore, an indigenously built guided missile destroyer, mission deployed in the region, is also making a port call at Abu Dhabi, UAE from 19 to 22 Feb 21.
Deployment of Indian Navy ships to Abu Dhabi, UAE underscores deep rooted friendly ties and multi-faceted cooperation between India and UAE, and will further strengthen defence cooperation between the two countries. Source: Press Information Bureau (PIB).
PERMANENT MISSION OF INDIA TO UN
NSC meeting/consultations on Syria (Chemical weapons), Statement by Mr. R. Ravindra
Deputy Permanent Representative - Political Coordinator, New York, 03 February 2021.
Thank you Madam President.
Let me extend best wishes on behalf of my delegation for a successful Presidency. I would like to thank Under Secretary General and High Representative for Disarmament Affairs Izumi Nakamitsu for her briefing.
2. We take note of the monthly report shared by DG OPCW with the Council today regarding the activities of the OPCW in implementing Security Council resolution 2118 (2013).
3. India recognizes the continuing efforts of the Declaration Assessment Team (DAT), the Fact-Finding Mission (FFM) and the Investigation and Identification Team (IIT) mechanisms of the OPCW, especially in these challenging times. We appreciate the announcement that DAT intends to deploy its team in the coming week to Syria for the next round of consultations. We look forward to receiving their findings. We also hope that the OPCW Technical Secretariat will also report the outcomes of the inspections of the facilities of the Syrian Scientific Studies and Research Centre (SSRC), which were conducted between 8 and 13 November 2020. We also note the development concerning extension of tripartite agreement between OPCW, Syria and UNOPS. We hope this agreement will be signed soon.
4. We encourage continued engagement and cooperation between Syria and the OPCW Technical Secretariat towards an early resolution of all outstanding issues. India has consistently underlined the need for an impartial and objective investigation into any alleged use of chemical weapons, scrupulously following the provisions and procedures laid down in the Convention. Any concerns should be addressed on the basis of consultation among all concerned parties. In our view, politicization of the issue will result in parties taking extreme positions, jeopardizing the ongoing efforts towards resolution.
5. India attaches high importance to the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), which is a unique, non-discriminatory disarmament instrument and serves as a model for the elimination of an entire category of weapons of mass destruction. Under the Convention, India enjoys the distinction of becoming one of the first State Parties to be declared ‘chemical weapon free’ state Party. India has also provided a financial contribution of US$ one million to the OPCW Trust Fund for activities relating to destruction of chemical stockpiles and related facilities in Syria.
6. India remains concerned about the possibility of such dangerous weapons of mass destruction falling into the hands of terrorist organizations and individuals. Terrorist groups have taken advantage of the decade long conflict in Syria to entrench themselves posing a threat to the entire region. Reports of the resurgence of ISIS in the region are being heard with increasing frequency. The world cannot afford to give these terrorists any sanctuary or dilute its fight against these terrorist groups.
7. India has consistently called for a comprehensive and peaceful resolution of the Syrian conflict through a Syrian-led dialogue, taking into account the legitimate aspirations of the people of Syria. We have also contributed to the return of normalcy and rebuilding of Syria through humanitarian assistance and human resource development. We stand ready to work with humanitarian relief agencies in devising a suitable vaccination relief programme for the country and the West Asia as a whole.
8. Let me conclude by reiterating our full-hearted support to both the Geneva and the Astana processes for an expeditious resolution of the decade long conflict in Syria.
I thank you, Mr. President. Source: Permanent Mission of India to UN.
UN Security Council Briefing on The Situation in Iraq (UNAMI briefing) (February 16, 2021), Statement by Ambassador T.S. Tirumurti, Permanent Representative of India to the United Nations, New York, 16 February 2021.
Thank you Madam President.
I thank Special Representative Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert for her comprehensive briefing. We appreciate UNAMI’s close cooperation with the Government of Iraq in providing the necessary assistance to tackle the multiple challenges being faced by them.
2. Let me begin by expressing my deep condolences to the Government and the people of Iraq and the families of those who were killed in the terrorist attacks in Baghdad on January 21. We strongly condemn these attacks on innocent civilians and express our solidarity with the Government and the people of Iraq. I also wish a speedy recovery to those who were grievously injured in these despicable attacks.
3. The attacks are a stark reminder that ISIL continues to pose a significant challenge to peace and stability in Iraq and the region. Terrorism remains the gravest threat to mankind and endangers the very foundation of humanity. It is important for the international community to continue its support for Iraqi Security Forces and the Government so that they can credibly address the menace of terrorism and provide an environment free of terror and fear.
4. The report of the Analytical Support and Sanctions Monitoring Team of the 1267 Committee had mentioned in its report that the threat posed by ISIL to international peace and security is on the rise again and that majority of the active 10,000 ISIL fighters in the region are in Iraq. This is deeply concerning. The focus of this Council should be to eliminate every threat posed by ISIL and other terror groups in Iraq and elsewhere in the world. In order to ensure effective action, a holistic approach needs to be adopted in the global fight against terrorism. In this context, my External Affairs Minister had proposed an eight-point action plan for effectively countering terrorism at the Council’s Ministerial meeting last month.
5. The upcoming parliamentary elections in Iraq, scheduled in October 2021, will be a valuable opportunity to strengthen the roots of democracy in the country. A transparent, free, fair and inclusive election, conducted in a violence-free environment, with high voter turnout will empower the new Government to implement reforms, improve accountability, meet the genuine aspirations of Iraqi people, especially the women and youth, and promote inclusiveness and reconciliation. International assistance to the Independent High Electoral Commission of Iraq and UN observation of the electoral process would also enhance the credibility of these elections and build confidence about the integrity of the results amongst the Iraqi people.
6. In this regard, India fully supports the Government of Iraq’s request for UN observation of the upcoming elections in the country. We will support any process which respects Iraq’s sovereignty, strengthens the democratic exercise, and makes it credible, and consequently acceptable to the people of Iraq. In line with our strong democratic traditions, India has contributed to the democratic and electoral processes in Iraq by training Independent High Electoral Commission officials and sending election observers.
7. We are pleased to note the positive progress in preparation for the upcoming elections. The passage of the electoral law and allocation of funds to the Independent High Electoral Commission are significant steps in this regard. It is important that the remaining conditions for smooth elections like completion of bio-metric voter registration and agreement on the Federal Supreme Court’s membership are also fulfilled in a timely manner. We acknowledge the valuable support provided by UNAMI in the electoral process.
8. We commend the concerted efforts of the Government of Iraq and the Kurdistan Regional Government to resolve all outstanding issues. We encourage both sides to continue the constructive dialogue for a mutually satisfactory long-term sustainable agreement on these issues, including on revenue sharing and budget allocations. We are also pleased to see the commencement of the implementation of Sinjar agreement.
9. The continued attacks on diplomatic establishments and convoys, including yesterday’s attack in Erbil, by non-State armed groups are a serious challenge in maintaining the fragile peace that prevails in Iraq. We appreciate the efforts by the Government of Iraq to provide protection to all diplomatic missions. We hope that a long-term solution can be found to this issue.
10. We applaud the Government of Iraq’s determined efforts to maintain friendly and cordial ties with its neighbours and other regional countries. The stability of Iraq should be of paramount importance to the region and the country should not become a theatre for regional or global conflicts. I reaffirm India’s steadfast support for Iraq’s sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity.
11. We welcome the cooperation between the Governments of Iraq and Kuwait to achieve an amicable solution on the issue of missing Kuwaiti persons and third-country nationals, as well as the return of Kuwaiti property. The recent identification of Kuwaiti nationals from the remains sent by Iraqi authorities last year, has resulted in solace to the families of the deceased. Besides being important from the humanitarian perspective, this has furthered reconciliation between the two countries. We recognize the significant support provided by ICRC to facilitate progress on this file.
12. India’s friendship with Iraq is steeped in history. India has always been supportive of a democratic, pluralistic, federal, unified and prosperous Iraq fulfilling the aspirations of its citizens. Our people-to-people ties and trade relations are very strong. We have always responded to the urgent needs of Iraq for relief and reconstruction and contributed USD 30 million. This includes supporting the International Reconstruction Fund Facility for Iraq, contribution through World Food Programme and capacity building under our Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation (ITEC) programme.
13. India is the preferred destination for medical treatment for many Iraqi friends, who visit every year. This cooperation has continued even during the COVID-19 pandemic. I am also happy to note that under Air Bubble Arrangement between the countries, over 10,000 Iraqi nationals have travelled to India during the last four months alone for medical treatment.
14. The Government of Iraq is taking encouraging steps to achieve stability, reconciliation, peace and development in the country.
Thank you. Source: Permanent Mission of India to UN.
UN Security Council Briefing on Middle East (Yemen), Statement by Ambassador T.S. Tirumurti, Permanent Representative of India to the UN, New York, 18 February 2021.
Thank you Madam President.
I thank Special Envoy Griffiths and Under-Secretary-General Lowcock for their briefings. I also thank my dear friend Ambassador Rhonda King for her briefing as Chair of the 2140 Sanctions Committee.
2. Ten years ago, the people of Yemen poured into the streets demanding political, administrative and economic reforms in the country. This Council started discussing the situation in Yemen, and we were part of these discussions then as well, with the objective of ensuring a peaceful political transformation. The Yemeni people hoped that such a transformation would bring a positive change to their lives. It is disheartening to see that a decade later the conflict in Yemen still has no end in sight. The formidable economic, security and political challenges confronting the people of Yemen have only increased leaving them in acute need of humanitarian assistance. Today, a sizeable population of the country does not have reliable access to food. Malnourishment among children has reached high levels, which will only worsen with the forecast of famine. The underlying factors contributing to the humanitarian situation in Yemen need to be urgently addressed.
3. The most pressing issue of all is the need to end the conflict. Grave food insecurity and hunger are clustered in areas affected by the conflict. We are deeply concerned by the renewed hostilities in Marib and Al Jawf, triggered by recent military operations of Ansarallah, and continuing civilian casualties in Hudaydah. All parties should immediately eschew violence and implement the ceasefire provisions of the Hudaydah Agreement. We commend UNMHA’s efforts in engaging the parties to defuse the situation in Hudaydah governorate and call on all parties to remove restrictions on UNMHA’s movement to facilitate their patrolling. The preservation and full implementation of the Stockholm Agreement is even more critical today to ensure smooth commercial and humanitarian imports into Yemen.
4. India condemns the attack on Abha International Airport in Saudi Arabia. The targeting of the civilian airport is a violation of international law and cannot be justified for any reason whatsoever. We also condemn the missile and drone attacks in Saudi Arabia in recent weeks, which pose a risk to the security of that country and also threaten regional stability. I reiterate India’s call for the strict implementation of the arms embargo envisaged in resolution 2216 to effectively eliminate such threats in the future.
5. We have followed closely the recent diplomatic initiatives, including the visit of the UNSG’s Special Envoy Martin Griffiths to the region, and hope that these will contribute to reducing the tensions and kick-starting peace talks between the Yemeni parties. An early conclusion of prisoner exchange talks in Amman with a positive outcome will set the right environment for peace talks.
6. In this context, let me underline the following:
The hostilities must end immediately facilitating a nationwide ceasefire between the parties. As has been evident from the continuing turmoil in the country, there can be no military solution to the conflict. A peaceful political settlement through broad-based dialogue and consultations, taking into account the legitimate concerns and aspirations of all stakeholders in Yemen, is the only way forward.
With the formation of the new government cabinet facilitated by Saudi Arabia under the Riyadh Agreement, time is now ripe to get all Yemeni parties on-board for the commencement of a comprehensive peace process. We urge the Special Envoy to continue his commendable efforts in this regard.
Any peace process should be fully inclusive and led by the Yemenis with UN being a facilitating partner. The role of women and youth should be fully factored into this process and the solution. With commitment and resolve from all Yemeni parties, a consensus-based political solution to the country’s crisis can be achieved. The regional countries with influence on various Yemeni parties have an important role in ensuring it.
While the larger goal of national reconciliation and sustainable peace is under consideration, the immediate dire economic, health and humanitarian situation should be effectively addressed. Any international assistance provided to Yemeni people should be impartial, irrespective of who controls the territory they live in. This assistance should also take into account and address the prevailing COVID-19 situation in Yemen.
It must also be ensured that terrorist forces do not take advantage of the continuing conflict. AQAP and IS, though weakened, still have the potential to spawn and strengthen terrorism in the country and the region. The international community must speak in one voice against terrorism in all its forms and manifestations.
7. As I have said in the past, the cornerstone of India’s centuries-old relations with Yemen is our people to people ties. Thousands of Yemeni students continue to study in India and a large number of Yemenis travel to India for medical treatment in our hospitals every year. Our doors have always been open for the people of Yemen even during these challenging times of COVID pandemic. We also remain committed to extending humanitarian help to Yemen.
8. Before I conclude, Madam President, let me also join other colleagues in expressing my disappointment over the continued stasis on the SAFER issue. The UN team of experts must be provided immediate access to SAFER so as to avert an environmental and humanitarian disaster. I also encourage the UN not to get bogged down by technicalities and react nimbly whenever a window of opportunity opens up in future to resolve the issue. I thank you.
I thank you. Source: Permanent Mission of India to UN.
UNSC open VTC briefing followed by closed consultations on Syria (Humanitarian Situation), Statement by Ambassador T.S. Tirumurti, Permanent Representative of India to the United Nations, New York, 25 February 2021
Thank you Madam President.
Let me begin by thanking USG Mark Lowcock for his briefing on the humanitarian situation in Syria and the United Nations Strategic Framework.
2. The 10 year long Syrian conflict has brought much suffering to the Syrian people. Syria is facing a dire situation compounded by a multiplicity of factors like COVID, harsh winter conditions, food insecurity and putting into peril the future of its 17.6 million citizens, including nearly 6.2 million displaced people, the biggest internally displaced population anywhere in the world. Across the region, 10 million people, including 5.5 million Syrian refugees continue to remain dependent on humanitarian assistance. Children have been particularly badly affected.
3. Since we last met in this Council, the dire humanitarian situation has been further worsened by deteriorating economic conditions as well as continuing food insecurity. According to a January 2021 World Food Programme (WFP) report, the price of Syria’s standard basic food items basket in December 2020 was 236 percent higher compared to December 2019, a month-to-month increase of 13 percent that brought the price to its highest record since WFP started monitoring prices in 2013. In addition, the recent increase in the price of bread has added to the vulnerability of the population. The supply of fuel has also been affected by delays in arrival of supplies. Further, the floods in late January have destroyed more than 21,000 tents in IDP camps in Syria, affecting more than 120,000 people.
4. The scale, severity and complexity of humanitarian needs should provoke the collective conscience of this Council, particularly those who advocate linking of humanitarian assistance to their expected outcomes on the political track. It is difficult to comprehend such an approach. Politicization of the humanitarian track must end. It is not feasible for people in need of urgent and dire humanitarian assistance to wait endlessly till political objectives of all parties to the conflict are met fully.
5. Allow me now to address two inter-linked questions of humanitarian access and principles, which are closely inter-related in the context of Syria. India firmly believes that all humanitarian aid delivery to Syria must be consistent with United Nations guiding principles of humanitarian assistance. Humanitarian assistance to Syria, be it cross-border or cross-line, must take into consideration the independence, territorial integrity and sovereignty of Syria. At the same time, concrete steps need to be taken to address hurdles that are obstructing the functioning of both cross-border and cross-line operations, in particular, the delays in granting requisite approvals to humanitarian aid convoys. All parties need to protect health and humanitarian workers.
6. The other inter-connected issue is that of comprehensive and objective assessment of unilateral measures imposed by countries on Syria. Such measures only aggravate the prevailing economic, humanitarian and development crisis, with devastating effects for the entire population, particularly the women, children and the elderly.
7. We also underscore the importance of active engagement of UN with Syria towards implementation of the UN Strategic Framework to achieve the outcomes that have been set out.
8. For its part, India continues to stand shoulder by shoulder with the people of Syria in this grave hour of need. Earlier this month, responding to the request for emergency humanitarian assistance from the Syrian Government, India delivered more than 2000 MT (metric tons) of rice for the people of Syria through the port city of Latakia. We shared more than 10 MT medicines for the people of Syria in July last year to help them through the COVID pandemic. We stand ready to work with the UN and its agencies to ensure that ‘Made in India’ vaccines, in keeping with the clarion call of our Prime Minister of ‘Vaccines for all’, can also be brought to the aid and assistance of the people of Syria.
9. As regards our development partnership with Syria, India has extended US $ 265 million in soft loans for projects in the steel and power sector and USD 12 million in humanitarian assistance to the Government of Syria through both bilateral and multilateral channels. India has also set up a bio-tech park and an IT Centre. Keeping the conflict in mind, we also organized an artificial limb fitment camp in Damascus in 2019-20, which benefited over 500 Syrians. Given the education crisis pointed out by the briefer, allow me to mention that India has extended 1000 scholarships for Syrian students for higher education in India. This has been welcomed and is already benefiting Syrian youth.
10. In conclusion, Madam President, I reiterate my country’s commitment to support Syria and its people in these challenging times.
I thank you Madam President. Source: Permanent Mission of India to UN
UN Security Council meeting on ‘The situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question’, India Statement by Ambassador K. Nagaraj Naidu, Deputy Permanent Representative, New York, 26 February 2021.
I thank the UK Presidency for its initiative of inviting youth representatives Malak and Oren to this meeting to share their perspectives. We also thank Special Coordinator Tor Wennesland for his briefing.
2. Let me begin by reaffirming India’s support to the Palestinian cause and the establishment of a sovereign, viable and independent State of Palestine living side by side in peace and security with Israel. We firmly believe that only a two-state solution will deliver enduring peace that the people of Israel and Palestine desire and deserve. This should be achieved through direct negotiations between both sides on final status issues. Both sides must avoid any unilateral action which could prejudice these final status issues.
3. Recent diplomatic efforts to revive the stalled peace talks are encouraging. The meeting of the Quartet’s Special Envoys is timely. We urge the Quartet to initiate engagement with the Israeli and the Palestinian leadership. In this regard, we also appreciate the Munich Group’s recent outreach. India welcomes all efforts, which are aimed at strengthening the collective commitment of the international community to resume direct negotiations and facilitate the peace process.
4. We are pleased to note that preparations for the Palestinian elections are moving forward. The Cairo agreement between the Palestinian parties on the conduct of parliamentary and presidential elections - to abide by the electoral timetable, accept the results of the election and on other election related arrangements - is a positive step in the right direction. The commitment undertaken by all parties to release political detainees will also help build trust between them. We acknowledge Egypt’s efforts in facilitating this agreement. The high percentage of Palestinians, who have registered to vote in the elections, reflects their desire to take part in the democratic process.
5. The opening of Rafah border crossing is a significant development, which will ease the humanitarian and health situation in Gaza. The recent announcements pertaining to the gas pipeline to Gaza are also encouraging. The pandemic’s impact on the people of Gaza has been particularly severe due to the fragile health-care infrastructure.
6. We note that COVID-19 vaccines are being made available to the people of Palestine, including in Gaza. India strongly believes that equity in access to vaccines across the world is important for mitigating the impact of the pandemic. India had earlier provided critical medicines and medical equipment to Palestine as COVID-19 assistance. We are now in the process of sending a second batch of medicines as a grant to the Palestinian people in the coming weeks. We will also facilitate an early supply of vaccines to Palestine.
7. India has been consistently supporting Palestinian nation-building efforts under the India-Palestine developmental partnership. In addition to our ongoing projects in health, education and technology sectors, we have recently signed agreements for funding Quick Impact Projects to be implemented through partnerships with grass-root Palestinian institutions.
8. Before I conclude, let me also reiterate our continued support for UNRWA’s humanitarian and development work for the Palestinian refugee community. In 2020, UNRWA faced a double-crisis of unprecedented magnitude – a drastic financial shortfall compounded by the unparalleled public health crisis triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic. Recognizing the gravity of the Agency’s situation, India has pledged an annual financial contribution of 5 million dollars to support UNRWA for the next two years.
I thank you, Madam President. Source: Permanent Mission of India to UN.
Unstarred Question No.356, Tamils Evacuated from Gulf, Lok Sabha, 03 February 2021.
356. SHRI K. NAVASKANI:
Will the Minister of External Affairs be pleased to state:
(a) the number of Tamil people who were evacuated from Gulf and other countries in the light of COVID-19 pandemic, State-wise; and
(b) whether the Government has succeeded in the mission and if so, the details thereof?
ANSWER: THE MINISTER OF STATE IN THE MINISTRY OF EXTERNAL AFFAIRS [SHRI V. MURALEEDHARAN]
(a) & (b) As per the information available with the Ministry of External Affairs, around 3,44,937 people have arrived in Tamil Nadu under the Vande Bharat Mission till 20 January 2021. The Government of India, through the Vande Bharat Mission, has been successful in evacuating distressed Indian nationals who have been stranded in foreign countries. Stranded Indians with the most compelling reasons have all safely returned to their homes. Our Missions are in regular touch with Indians resident in their country of accreditation and are facilitating their return to India on their request. Source: Ministry of External Affairs (MEA).
Unstarred Question No.1432, People from Telangana in Gulf, Lok Sabha, 10 February 2021.
1432. SHRI KOTHA PRABHAKAR REDDY: SHRIMATI VANGA GEETHA VISWANATH:
Will the Minister of External Affairs be pleased to state:
(a) the details of persons including from Telangana and Andhra Pradesh settled in Gulf and other countries in the last five years and the current year student, employees, domestic maids etc., category-wise; and
(b) the steps being taken to help the persons in Gulf who are in trouble in the last five years?
ANSWER: THE MINISTER OF STATE IN THE MINISTRY OF EXTERNAL AFFAIRS [SHRI V. MURALEEDHARAN]
(a) As per information available with the Ministry, an estimated 1.25 crore Indian nationals are residing in various countries of the world, including 88 lakh in Gulf countries. Similarly, an estimated 10.90 lakh Indian students are pursuing their education in various countries of the world. Indian nationals in foreign countries are advised to register themselves with concerned Indian Mission/ Post abroad. However, only a few register themselves. Therefore, such state-wise and category-wise data of Indian nationals is not available with Ministry.
(b) The Government attaches the highest priority to the safety, security and well-being of Indians in foreign countries. The Government has taken several steps to strengthen grievance redressal mechanism and other measures to ensure speedy resolution of labour disputes in various countries of the world, including in the Gulf countries. These include:
(i) The on-line MADAD portal enables the emigrant workers and their family members to register their consular grievances on-line and track their redressal.
(ii) Grievances related to Overseas Employment in notified Emigration Check Required (ECR) countries can also be lodged directly by emigrants/ relatives or through the Pravasi Bharatiya Sahayata Kendra (PBSK) on e-Migrate portal. These grievances are settled by respective jurisdictional Protectors of Emigrants (PoEs) as per laid down procedures.
(iii) Indian Missions/ Consulates conduct Open Houses on a regular basis where workers can speak on their working conditions and seek redressal of their grievances. 24x7 Helplines and Toll Free Helplines for the benefit of Indian workers to seek help have been established.
(iv) A multi-lingual 24X7 Helpline of Pravasi Bharatiya Sahayata Kendra (PBSK) in New Delhi provides information, guidance and grievance redressal on all issues and problems pertaining to overseas employment of Indian nationals.
(v) Abroad Pravasi Bharatiya Sahayata Kendras (PBSK) have been set up at Dubai (UAE), Riyadh, Jeddah (Kingdom of Saudi Arabia) and Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia) to provide guidance and counselling on all matters pertaining to overseas Indian workers.
(vi) Kshetriya Pravasi Sahayata Kendras (KPSK) have been setup in Kochi, Hyderabad, Chennai, Lucknow and Delhi to assist emigrants or their relatives to redress their problems/ complaints regarding overseas employment.
(vii) Grievances brought to the notice of the Ministry and the Missions through social media, including twitter, are promptly addressed.
(viii) The Missions utilise the Indian Community Welfare Fund (ICWF) to provide assistance to overseas Indian nationals in times of distress. The guidelines of the Indian community welfare fund have been revised to expand the scope of welfare measures and to cover three key areas, namely, assisting overseas Indian nationals in distress situations, community welfare activities and improvement in consular services.
(ix) Labour and Manpower Cooperation MoUs/ Agreements are in place with the six Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries that provide the institutional framework to comprehensively discuss and review labour related issues. In accordance with the Labour and Manpower Cooperation/ Agreement, Joint Working Group (JWG) meetings are held on regular basis to discuss various labour related issues. Source: Ministry of External Affairs (MEA).
As part of the policy, the MEI@ND standardizes spellings and date format to make the text uniformly accessible and stylistically consistent. The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views/positions of the MEI@ND. Editor, MEI@ND P R Kumaraswamy
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