About 2,200 Indians in a conflict-free zone in southern Iraq have expressed a desire to return home, and they will be in India in the next 36 to 48 hours, the external affairs ministry said on Sunday, even as 200 others reached New Delhi early in the morning.
As the momentum of evacuation picked up, the process of transporting Indian nationals from Iraq is focused on the non-conflict zone in southern Iraq, external affairs ministry spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin told reporters.
Four mobile teams of six persons each have been placed in Najaf, Karbala and Basra apart from Baghdad, which have collected details of those who would like to leave the country.
"Our advice to them is to leave. If they are facing problems or are staying back because of tickets, government is ready to provide them. We are also ready to provide assistance in terms of contractual problems. Based on that our assessment is 2,200 Indian nationals have in some form or other expressed their desire to leave Iraq," he said.
Of these, Akbaruddin said 600 have been provided with tickets by the government through the facilitation process of the Baghdad mission, while 600 have been paid by their companies.
Another 1,600 were being provided tickets by government for their return, he said, adding that since developments in the last 48 hours, the government has calibrated its approach and the momentum of bringing back people has picked up.
On Saturday, 170 people were brought and this morning an Iraqi Airways special flight brought 200 people to Delhi. In addition Iraqi Airways is also flying normal flights from Baghdad. In the next 36 to 48 hours, two other special flights from Najaf and Basra will bring 200 and 280 people respectively to Delhi.
In addition a group of 117 passengers will arrive early on Monday morning in Delhi by a commercial flight that will be diverted to Najaf to pick them up.
Akbaruddin said the Indian mission was processing documents for facilitating the exit of 200 plus people. In the next 48 hours, all the 1,600 people who have expressed their desire to come back on tickets paid by government would have been transported.
Most of the 600 people whose tickets have been paid for by the government are already back in the country. They are from Hyderabad, Bangalore, Kolkata and Mumbai.