More reports on: Defence general

Indian nurses stranded in Iraq

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18 June 2014

Even as concerns over the safety of Indian nationals in war-torn Iraq mount, it has emerged that Indian nurses in the fallen city of Tikrit have been left with no security as the Indian government could do little about it at the moment.

The Hindustan Times quoted Marina Jose, a resident of Kottayam as saying the nurses were literally leading a life of prisoners. They could not step out of hospital premises and they could hear blasts from everywhere.

She added that all Iraqi officials had fled and they were without any security. She added, that in fact, some of the Red Cross volunteers helped them to recharge their SIM cards.

Around 46 nurses are stuck in hospitals in Tikrit, while 41 construction workers are stuck in Mosul since the past few days when Sunni Islamist militant group Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham (Isis) overran key cities in a crisis the UN said was an existential threat to Iraq.

India has requested the International Red Crescent to ensure the nurses' safety in Tikrit,  foreign ministry spokesperson Syed Akbarudin said.

According to a Kerala minister though, there was little the Indian government could do at the moment.

Meanwhile, the Congress party on Tuesday approached Prime Minister Narendra Modi and sought the centre's assistance in securing the return of Indians stranded in the violence-wracked country, reports PTI.

In a letter to the prime minister, former MP and Congress spokesperson P C Chacko said there were 46 nurses and paramedics from Kerala who were trapped in hospitals in Iraq and called Congress leaders over telephone narrating their sad plight.

He added Kerala chief minister Oommen Chandy had already received distress calls and had already written a letter to external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj requesting assistance from the central government for the repatriation of the Indian workforce stranded in Iraq.

''On behalf of Indians and Keralites and in view of the precarious situation in strife-torn Iraq, I shall request your kindest intervention for a high-level intercession with the government of Iraq to ensure the safety, security, evacuation and repatriation of Indian workforce trapped in that country,'' Chacko said in the letter.

Noting that several Indians were stranded in the towns of Mosul, Kirkuk and Tikrit, he said, there were reports that there was no law and order in violence-affected areas and the streets were flooded with arms-wielding rebels.

''They are living without food and water and fear for their lives. They are pleading for the intervention of the government of India in granting them protection and aiding their safe evacuation and repatriation,'' Chacko said.





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