MEA gears up for Iraq evacuation

June 30, 2014 02:58 am | Updated December 04, 2021 11:37 pm IST - NEW DELHI:

Days after the government began planning for the possible evacuation of 10,000 or more Indians who may be in Iraq, Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj is seeking help from other Gulf countries as well.

On Sunday, Ms. Swaraj along with Minister of State for Overseas Indian Affairs Gen. V.K. Singh chaired a meeting of Indian envoys to six Gulf countries — Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, UAE, Oman, Saudi Arabia — to discuss assistance to Indians in Iraq.

Later Ms. Swaraj met Ambassadors of the Gulf states in India, where she requested them to suggest ways to evacuate Indians, especially if the conflict in Iraq worsens.

Ms. Swaraj also met the families of 39 Indian workers held captive in Mosul; the families have been urging the government to move faster on rescuing them, and have threatened a protest at New Delhi’s Jantar Mantar.

Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said the government had fresh information over the weekend, and was doing all it could to bring them to safety. “They remain unharmed, they are in captivity, we have got some leads on them,” he said.

Meanwhile, the government has stepped up efforts to ensure that all Indians working in Iraq are registered, in case they need to be evacuated at short notice. Camp offices have been set up in Najaf, Karbala and Basra, cities that haven’t seen the spread of violence.

Air India airplanes, Naval ships as well as commercial ships have also been identified, as reported first in >The Hindu on Friday, and will be pressed into action if the violence, or the numbers of those wanting to be evacuated warrants it.

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