Dozens of Indians, including 46 nurses from Kerala, remain stranded in the Iraqi towns of Mosul and Tikrit, now controlled by Sunni-militant ISIS fighters, even as the Iraqi government said it was pushing back against the ISIS offensive aimed at Baghdad.
On Sunday, the Ministry of External Affairs issued a travel advisory, warning Indians to avoid all travel to Iraq until further notice, and for Indians based in Iraq to return by commercial means if possible.
An estimated 16,000 Indians live and work in Iraq, mainly on construction projects. “All Indians in Iraq are safe,” assured Ambassador Ajay Kumar, speaking to The Hindu by telephone from Baghdad. “We are talking to them and have offered them any assistance. In some places however, it is not safe for them to travel by road, and we are advising them accordingly,” he said.
India's Embassy in Baghdad sets up 24 hour helpline which can be accessed for information or assistance. Contact mail firstname.lastname@example.org— Syed Akbaruddin (@MEAIndia) June 15, 2014
Of particular concern is the fate of 46 nurses working at the Tikrit Hospital, as well as 40 workers at a government-funded construction project in Mosul. Mr. Kumar said they were monitoring their situation regularly, and exploring possibilities of bringing them to safety via Kurdistan or directly to Baghdad. Mr. Kumar said the Embassy is in regular contact with U.N. agencies and the Iraq government to facilitate their return. In the areas affected by the onslaught of the ISIS terrorist fighters, who are responsible for brutal beheadings and executions in areas of Iraq they have taken control of, India is advising national to stay indoors until the situation improves.
Helplines set up by India's Embassy in Baghdad to assist r nationals. Tel. No. +964 770 444 4899 & Tel No. +964 770 484 3247— Syed Akbaruddin (@MEAIndia) June 15, 2014
The Embassy has set up a helpline to answer any queries, and if offering to organize passports and exit papers for any Indian nationals requiring help to escape the violence-torn nation during the current crisis.
+964 770 444 4899
+964 770 484 3247