Two Indian nurses evacuated from a Iraqi hospital

Last Updated 25 June 2014, 15:55 IST

India has evacuated two nurses, other than the 46 nurses stranded in a hospital in Tikrit, from Iraq's conflict zone taking the total number of those rescued so far to 36.

"Two nurses in the zone of conflict, other than the group of 46 (in Tikrit), have been rescued and evacuated. They are now in Karbala which is again a safe place," the Spokesperson in the Ministry of External Affairs said.

The spokesperson did not specify the place from where the two nurses were pulled out.He said the modalities of their return were being worked out and their tickets were being facilited by the MEA.

"We have got their tickets and they will fly back to India as soon as possible. They are now in the safe zone," the spokesperson said.

The Ministry had earlier evacuated 34 Indians from the country while 39 Indian citizens still remain in captivity.

On those in captivity, the spokesperson said, "those who think we are in the dark about it, w are not in the dark about it. As of today, we again have confirmation from multiple sources that these Indians remain in captivity and they are unharmed."

The MEA was in touch with a variety of sources who have confirmed this, he said.

With regard to the 46 nurses stranded in a hospital in Tikrit, the spokesperson said no one had intruded into the hospital and they have electricity and food supply.

"We are working with a variety of people on how best we can move them out from there but...it is not possible to use land routes and in such situations while we will work, we will also advise caution," the spokesperson said.

"And that we have done yesterday in terms of requests and advise to all of them to ensure that they do not move out of their places they are staying in, given the security situation there," he said.

The government meanwhile has called all Indian envoys in Gulf countries to New Delhi on June 29 to discuss the complexities of the Iraqi issue. 

The Spokesperson said "the External Affairs Minister (Sushma Swaraj) is monitoring the situation herself and she has now summoned all Indian Ambassodors in the Gulf to come to Delhi."

The meeting of the Ambassadors  will be held in Delhi on June 29.

However, Indian Ambassador to Iraq Ajay Kumar will not be attending that meeting as he is required to stay in that country to "focus much greater on ground-level issues".

"We have summoned these Ambassadors to understand the complexity of the situation we are facing, both In Iraq and in the region generally," The Spokesperson said. 

Elaborating on the issues to be discussed in the meeting, the spokesperson said the regional complexities will be under consideration and the situation in Iraq will be discussed as it "is a major issue facing the government".

He said the India's mission in Iraq had been strengthened with an additional senior level officer.

"We intend to strengthen it further with several other senior level officers as we open camp offices in Najaf, Karbala and Basra. We are exploring every option, every effort is being made," the spokesperson said.

The MEA reiterated it was in touch with the nurses stranded in Tikrit.

The MEA noted that the situation was difficult as they are in a zone of conflict which is not under the control of Iraqi authorities.

Tikrit is a violence-affected city which also fell to the Sunni militant group ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria).

The MEA stressed on its advisory that Indian nationals are advised not to travel to Iraq."Now that applies to every Indian national...Our view is that the situation is not appropriate for anyone to travel to Iraq from India, that remains are considered view and that applies across the board," the spokesperson said.

The MEA also said that apart from those 46 nurses who are in Tikrit, there were nurses in the conflict zone elsewhere also, out of whom two have now been evacuated.

Asked about 10 people from Maharashtra in Basra whose families are saying they are not getting consular help, the spokesperson said Basra was away from the conflict zone and there was no security issue there.

The spokesperson said there was a "labour problem" with many Indians not having complete documentation and the Indian Embassy officials, along with Iraqi officials, were setting up a joint committee to help those who want to leave but have immigration issues.

(Published 25 June 2014, 15:55 IST)

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