Thirty-six Indian nationals reach Kerala from Iraq

Another batch of 36 Indians, including 21 nurses, arrived here early on Friday from strife-torn Iraq, officials said.

Kochi: Another batch of 36 Indians, including 21 nurses, arrived here early on Friday from strife-torn Iraq, officials said.
The 36 Indians, all Keralites arrived here from Dubai.

While three of the nurses were working in General Hospital at Kirkuk in Kurdistan, in Iraq, 18 were employed with Azadi Teaching Hospital at Kirkuk.

Along with the nurses, 15 Keralites, working as labourers in a company, in Kurdistan, have also arrived. They were not being given salaries and were finding it difficult even for food. Their employer confiscated their passports and demanded USD 2000 per person, Non-Resident Keralites` Affairs (NORKA), CEO, Sudeep, said.

Manju Joseph, hailing from Kottayam, district, told PTI that they had all gone to Iraq 11 months ago taking loans, mortagaing properties, hopeful of providing a better future for their loved ones.

Though they did not face issues of no salaries, their families back here were apprehensive of their safety, Manju, said. "Even now there are 12 Malayalee nurses in Kirkuk."

Manju, who left her daughter studying in LKG and husband in Kerala, said the hospital authorities had told them that they could return, if they wanted, in two months time.
Sheena Antony, hailing from Kannur, said the situation was getting worse each passing day. Once, a bomb exploded near their hospital, breaking the window panes, giving them nightmares.

"The situation is worsening. The hospital used to get several patients, young, old and children, who were injured in the bomb blasts. The area is under kurds who have taken possession of two oil wells," she said adding none of them wanted to go back.

The Indian Ambassador in Iraq arranged exit passes for the Keralites and they were brought to Erbil airport and airlifted to Dubai from where they boarded a flight to Kochi this morning, he said.

Manju said there was lot of checking at the Erbil-Kirkuk border and they had to wait for two hours.
"All our things and luggage were checked by the army. It was only due to the intervention of Indian embassy officials we were able to make it," she said.

The Indian Ambassador was contacted by the nurses and only after an embassy official came, they were allowed to leave, Manju said.

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