The Centre said on Tuesday that it has evacuate 17 Indian nationals from Iraq. “With the help of (Iraqi) authorities, we have been able to evacuate 17 more Indian nationals from the conflict zone. They are now in Baghdad and will come back very soon,” the Ministry of External Affairs said.
Ministry spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said the 39 Indians abducted and in captivity in Mosul had “not been hurt or harmed”.
The 46 Indian nurses in Tikrit were also safe, he added. Meanwhile, the Kerala government said it is ready to pay for the return of its nurses stranded in Iraq.
“The Centre should meet the expenses of their return journey and if it does not happen, then the state government is ready to bear it,” state Minister for Diaspora K.C. Joseph told the Assembly. He was replying to a submission that sought the safe return of five nurses from Habeba in Iraq.
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Joseph also told the Assembly the state government is in touch with the Centre on the issue. He said there are reports from some place in Iraq that some of the nurses have salary dues. The Central government on Monday said a total of 120 Indians were stranded in the conflict zone in Iraq where Sunni insurgents have made rapid advances against the Iraqi authorities.
Ever since the troubles in Iraq intensified, Kerala nurses, especially from places like Karbala region, Baghdad Medical City and Tikrit, were in touch with media persons in Kerala. But after some TV news channel went overboard with the reporting, these nurses were asked by the Indian embassy officials not to speak to media, a Kerala government official told IANS.
At Tikrit, where reports of trouble were first emanated and the situation is still unfavourable, 46 Kerala nurses are waiting either to return to India or be transferred to a safe place.