Forty Indians to return from Iraq tomorrow

Violence affecting evacuation: Swaraj
Last Updated 29 June 2014, 20:59 IST

A batch of 40 Indians are scheduled to return from Iraq on Tuesday, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said on Sunday.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj also informed the relatives of Indians stranded in the conflict-ridden country that violence on the street was affecting the evacuation operation.

Soon after reviewing the Iraq situation with envoys from the Gulf countries, including ambassadors of Arab nations posted in India, Swaraj met with the families to assuage their concern.

“I shared the written message that came from our ambassador in Iraq with the families of the abducted. The government is trying to contact the abducted Indians. They (the families) were reassured,” she told a television channel.

The minister said the government was in touch with the nurses in violence-affected Tikrit. “The nurses remain unhurt, though they are scared because they hear noises (of gunshots and bombing) outside. Their hospitals have not been intruded upon. They had shortage of fund, which we provided through our contacts in that region,” MEA spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said. “A batch of 40 Indians will return to India the day after tomorrow,” he added.

But the violence on the street is coming in the way of a massive evacuation operation. Almost 10,000 Indians are in Iraq and the government has set up three camp offices and a mobile unit in Baghdad to facilitate their return. From Monday, 26 additional government officials will be in the West-Asian country to help the stranded Indians. 

Indian Community Welfare Fund resources from the Gulf will be made available for use to assist Indian nationals in Iraq. The funds were transferred from two Indian missions to Baghdad. 

Those who do not have tickets or travel documents or have had legal issues about their contracts are the most vulnerable. Akbaruddin said the government would provide necessary travel documents and tickets to those who cannot afford them.

It would also help settle contractual issues with the employers of Indian workers, if there are any. Currently, less than 100 Indians are in the conflict zone but there are thousands in other parts of Iraq.

Two naval warships – INS Mysore and INS Tarkash – are in the Persian Gulf and Gulf of Aden respectively. But there is no further instruction to the Navy from the MEA.

(Published 29 June 2014, 20:59 IST)

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