Chief Minister Oommen Chandy has struck down allegations of failure on the part of Indian embassy in timely evacuating 46 Indian nurses stranded in the war-torn Iraq.

He was talking to reporters outside the international terminal of the Cochin International Airport Limited at Nedumbassery, about 30 kilometres from Kochi, minutes before the arrival of the special Air India aircraft carrying the nurses.

Mr. Chandy said that the embassy did its best in the prevailing situation in Iraq. The Iraqi government hardly has any control over many areas of that country and no one is responsible for the happenings there.

An embassy can work as it is expected during normal circumstances. But the situation in Iraq is far from normal, he said.

Mr. Chandy attributed the successful evacuation of Indian nurses to the concerted efforts of the Ministry of External Affairs, State government, and the Indian embassy in Iraq.

Asked about any possible rehabilitation package for the nurses, many of whom had returned empty handed with huge debts to clear, the chief minister said that the government had trained its focus on the safe and smooth evacuation of the nurses up to this point.

Later talking to The Hindu, Mr. Chandy that the possibilities of working out a rehabilitation plan will be discussed in the days to come. He, however, was evasive when asked who brokered the evacuation at the ground level. He said that in the prevailing circumstances it cannot be disclosed.

Mr. Chandy said that the turn of events in Iraq was least expected at this particular time in response to a query on possible guidelines to job aspirants going to sensitive places like Iraq.

Mr. Chandy said that the State government is much relieved in getting the nurses back home safely. “I have been in touch with their relatives although,” he said.

The State government has granted an immediate relief of Rs. 5,000 to all returning nurses besides arranging conveyance for their trip back home. Mr. Chandy said that the government will also arrange for the conveyance of Lesima Jeorse, who hails from Tuticorin in Tamil Nadu.

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