Indian nurses in Iraq hospital send SOS to PM

The 46 Indian nurses in a hospital in the strife-torn Iraqi town of Tikrit have sent an SOS to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to ensure their safe return to India. One of the nurses told TOI over telephone that they were living in perpetual fear as ISIS rebels have been roaming the streets outside.

“This is a horrible,” said Jency James who hails from Idukki district of Kerala. “We have been stuck for days inside the hospital. The internet connection has snapped due to heavy shelling. We don’t know when the telephone and mobile connections will go off.” The nurses appealed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to ensure that they safely return home.

Diplomats, meanwhile, said the nurses are safe, though they may be stranded. The panic stricken nurses are reaching out to friends and families seeking help, but they cannot be moved out of the hospital as armed militia men were occupying the roads leading to the airport, said diplomats. According to the embassy, more than 18,000 Indians work in Iraq oil rigs and hospitals as doctors and nurses.

Former Indian ambassador to Iraq and India’s first ambassador to ASEAN Suresh Reddy reached the Iraqi capital of Baghdad on Wednesday to initiate talks with the Iraqi leadership and the rebels who have held 40 Indians captive. The Indian mission is also trying to bring home more Indians who are stranded in the strife-torn country.

Diplomatic efforts are on also to evacuate 12 Indian workers employed by a UAE company in Iraq. Indian ambassador to the UAE TP Seetharam told TOI over telephone from Abu Dhabi on Wednesday that the workers were deployed in Iraq at constructions sites. Meanwhile, the 46 Indian nurses stranded in a Tikrit teaching hospital were safe, Indian officials said.

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