Control room to provide info on Indians in Iraq

Swaraj took stock of evolving situation

Control room to provide info on Indians in Iraq

The government has set up a “control room” at the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) to provide information about Indians stranded in the conflict zones of Iraq.

New Delhi also continued to explore possibilities of evacuating Indians from the jihadist-held cities in Iraq and sought assistance of the Iraqi government in the operation.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Tuesday had a meeting with senior MEA officials to review the evolving situation in Iraq, where the government forces supported by civilian volunteers are struggling to repel the jihadists’ advance towards the capital city of Baghdad. She reviewed the status of the Indians living in Iraq, particularly those stranded in Mosul and Tikrit, which are among the cities captured by the militants of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria – an offshoot of al-Qaeda.

Anil Wadhwa, Secretary (East) in the MEA, chaired a meeting of the Crisis Management Group to discuss the situation in Iraq and possible assistance to be provided to the Indian citizens living in the conflict-hit West Asian country.

Wadhwa also had a meeting with Iraq’s ambassador to India, Ahmad Tahseen Ahmad Berwari, who apprised him of the situation in the conflict-zones. 

“They (Wadhwa and Berwari) discussed possibilities of ground-level cooperation and assistance in assisting Indian nationals who are in the affected area,” said the MEA spokesperson, Syed Akbaruddin.

Swaraj also asked the Embassy of India in Baghdad to send to the MEA headquarters in New Delhi updated reports about contacts between diplomats at the mission and the Indians stranded in various cities of Iraq, particularly in the ones which have fallen to the jihadists.

The embassy is in touch with 41 Indians – mostly construction workers – in Mosul, which was captured by the ISIL jihadists in the pre-dawn hours of June 9. 

The embassy officials are also in touch with 44 Indian nurses engaged in the hospitals in Tikrit, another city which too has fallen to the jihadists. The nurses are among the nearly 1,000 nurses the Iraqi government recently recruited from India to work in different hospitals in the country.

Following a request from New Delhi, a team of volunteers from the International Red Crescent Society on Monday visited Tikrit to meet the nurses from India and reported that all of them were found to be safe.

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