Govt may evacuate Indians from Iraqi cities

Govt may evacuate Indians from Iraqi cities

Asks citizens not to travel to Iraq

Govt may evacuate Indians from Iraqi cities

The government is exploring options to evacuate nearly 100 Indians stranded in the Iraqi cities of Mosul and Tikrit, which have fallen to the advancing militants of a jihadist organisation linked to al-Qaeda. 

With the Iraqi government forces supported by civilian volunteers struggling to repel the jihadists, New Delhi has advised all Indian citizens living in the West Asian country to leave. It has also advised all Indians against travelling to Iraq. 

“In view of the precarious security situation prevailing in Iraq, Indian nationals are advised to avoid all travel to Iraq, until further notification,” the Ministry of External Affairs  stated in a travel advisory issued on Sunday. “Indian nationals in Iraq may consider leaving the country by commercial means if it is safe to do so,” it added.

New Delhi had in 2010 lifted a 6 year-long ban on granting emigration clearance for Indians to travel to and work in Iraq.  Nearly 15,000 of the Indians in Iraq live in autonomous Kurdistan, with most of them employed in steel mills, oil companies and construction projects in cities like Erbil, Sulaimaniya and Dohuk. 

The Embassy of India in Baghdad till Sunday got in touch with 41 Indians – mostly construction workers – in Mosul, which was captured by the jihadists of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria or ISIS, an offshoot of the al-Qaeda. “We are in touch with them through cellphones.  They are all safe and we are trying to do whatever is possible to ensure that they remain so,” India’s ambassador to Iraq, Ajay Kumar, told Deccan Herald from Baghdad on Sunday. 

The embassy officials are also in touch with 46 Indian nurses in the hospitals in Tikrit, another city which has fallen to the ISIS jihadists. 

They are among nearly 1,000 the Iraqi government recently recruited from India to work in different hospitals in the country. The embassy has set up a 24-hour-helpline (cellphone nos +964 770 444 4899 and +964 770 484 3247), which can be accessed by the Indians in Iraq or their families in India for information or assistance.