Zee Media Bureau/Himanshu Kapoor
New Delhi: As the rescue operations to evacuate Indians stranded in strife-torn Iraq pick up pace, Ministry of External Affairs Official Spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin informed that around 1600 nationals are being provided with tickets by the Indian government for their return.
Briefing the reporters, Akbaruddin said so far 486 telephone calls have been received by the control rooms set up by the MEA, and the officials are responding to each one of them.
“Two other special flights will be flying to New Delhi from Najaf and Basra in next 36 to 48 hours with approximately 200 Indian nationals,” he said.
There are nearly 2,200 Indians in Iraq`s non-conflict areas who wish to return home and 117 of them will arrive in Delhi after midnight, it was announced.
The external affairs ministry said the government was buying tickets for some 1,600 of the 2,200 while the air fare for the other 600 were being paid by the companies in Iraq they worked for.
Yesterday, the ordeal of the 46 stranded Indian nurses ended with their safe return to Kochi. Some of the nurses after reuniting with their families vowed that they will not return to Iraq.
However, few nurses, who were abducted by the Sunni insurgent group the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS), had only good things to say about the "bearded boys" after a three-week-long captivity.
Some of them said they don`t feel like calling them abductors because they actually protected them in the strife-torn country.
The nurses, who were holed up in the hospital where they were working in Iraq`s former ruler Saddam Hussein`s hometown of Tikrit, were abducted by the ISIS rebels last month.
They were then moved out on Thursday against their will and detained in the militant-held city of Mosul, 250 km from Tikrit.