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94 Indians leave Iraq, nearly 600 to return this week

NEW DELHI: As many as 94 Indians on Monday left Iraq after a “pro-active approach” initated by the Indian officials there that would see nearly 600 nationals leaving the war-hit country to safety this week.

Indian officials in Iraq are reaching out to compatriots themselves, and are busy facilitating the paperwork and ticketing, for those needed, to enable them to fly back home, an official spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs told reporters here.

“The facilitation of Indian nationals in Iraq in areas which are not in conflict zones is now underway,” the spokesperson said, adding that special mobile teams are reaching out to residences of Indians in Najaf, Karbala, Basra and Baghdad advising them to leave the country.

“They (mobile teams) were authorised by the External Affairs Minister to contact Indian nationals in their places of residence to advice them that in accordance with two advisories we have sent, it is best that they leave places of work and return to India,” he said.

“The departure of more than 600 Indian nationals will be facilitated during the course of this week,” he said, adding that officials are working on paperwork, ticketing and employers for those who might have problems. The official also said that 60 Indians from Najaf, 30 from Karbala and four from Baghdad have left the strife-torn country today and others will soon follow.

Asked about the 39 kidnapped Indians there, he reiterated that they were knocking on all doors. Giving the details, he said that the return of 60 Indians from Najaf today was facilitated by the Indian officials there and the paperwork of another 31 is being processed. They are expected to leave tomorrow and another 30 the day after.

“In Karbala, departure of 30 Indian workers have taken place today. Paperwork of another 100 plus workers is in the pipeline and will be undertaken in the next 2-3 days. We hope to complete paperwork of another 100. So, as far as Karbala is concerned, during the course of 5-6 days, about 230 would be facilitated,” the official said.

Talking about Basra, the most distant from Baghdad, the official said six Indians who were in judicial custody will be released based on the documentation done by the mobile team. “They will be leaving back shortly. In nearby Nasria, we are working on ensuring the paperwork of departure of another 50 Indian nationals,” he said.

The official pointed out that 12 Indian nationals in Baghdad were issued tickets of which four flew out today itself while others were waiting for next available commercial flights. He underlined that as per a “pro-active approach” diplomats were reaching out to Indians themselves.

The official also said that if required, national assets would be used to assist the return of Indians. “At this stage, we are working through available means, and if those means are not adequate, if we require other national assets, we will not hesitate to use them,” the official said.