Govt ups efforts: 40 Indians to return from Iraq on Tues
With the efforts of the government in the past 24 hours, 40 Indian nationals stranded in strife-torn Iraq will return home safely on Tuesday while efforts to rescue others are underway.
Briefing reporters in New Delhi on Sunday, External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said 46 Indian nurses, who are in captivity, are unharmed and the ministry is in touch with them.
The spokesperson said two mobile units have been set up in Baghdad to reach out to Indians residing in various compounds or workplaces in the city. He said with this, the Ministry has now such units in all cities from Baghdad and its south.
Akbaruddin said that the ministry was “knocking on every door” to get whatever help was possible for the safety of Indian nationals and asserted that all national assets were in readiness should there be a need. Indian naval ships have moved into the Persian Gulf for any eventuality. The IAF also has also its aircraft on standby and if asked, it can deploy its C17 and C-130J Super Hercules aircraft at short notice.
On Sunday’s meeting of Indian envoys in Gulf countries chaired by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj in New Delhi, the spokesperson said it was decided that some money from Indian Community Welfare Fund will be transferred to Indian mission in Baghdad for assistance to Indian nationals.
He said Mrs Swaraj also had a meeting with the ambassadors of Gulf countries. The meeting was aimed at exploring what assistance the ambassadors can extend on behalf of their countries to help out Indians in conflict zone. He said the response of the ambassadors was positive and New Delhi intends to work with them to evacuate Indians from Iraq.
Chairing the meeting External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj focused on the process of facilitating departure of nearly 10,000 of its nationals from non-conflict zones.
The meeting aimed at chalking out a future strategy for the safety and evacuation of Indian nationals in Iraq. The meeting also reviewed the steps taken so far in this regard. India has set up three camp offices to facilitate departure of 10,000 Indians from non-conflict zones.
The Ministry had on Saturday issued an advisory asking Indian nationals to contact the Indian Embassy officials at the station nearest to their location for assistance to return home. It said all necessary assistance, including provision of travel documents, air tickets and facilitation in any other form for travel out of Iraq, will be provided to them to facilitate their return. The Ministry’s three camp offices are already working in Najaf, Karbala and Basra to help Indians depart from non-conflict zones.
Menawhile, according to agency reports, military operations intensified to flush out militants from Tikrit. Iraqi troops backed by helicopter gunships, tanks and pro-government Sunni fighters and Shia volunteers have made inroads in its assault to recapture the militants bastion in the hometown of former President Saddam Hussain.
Staff Lieutenant General Sabah Fatlawi told in Baghdad that a large military operation has begun to flush out ISIL militants from Tikrit who have only two choices- flee or be killed. On the political front, consultations have started among the leading political groups to decide on the country’s next Prime Minister.