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Iraq crisis: 600 Indians leave out of Iraq, more to follow: MEA

NEW DELHI: Nearly 600 Indians have left conflict-hit Iraq after being facilitated by the External Affairs Ministry and about 900 more are to follow even as the Indian embassy in Baghdad was in touch with the 46 nurses stuck in Tikrit who are “safe and unharmed”.

“By our estimation, the facilitation phase has now gathered pace. We have provided tickets to approximately 530 nationals. Their seats have been booked on commercial flights. In addition, we are processing the documentation of another 850 persons,” the Spokesperson in the External Affairs Ministry said here today.

Asked about the condition of the nurses who have taken refuge in the basement of their hospital after bombing and firing took place in the vicinity of the building, the Spokesperson said that the Indian Ambassador spoke to them and they remain “safe and unharmed”. About the other captives in the conflict zones, he said the understanding was that they are safe.

Giving details of issuance of travel documents to Indians, he said in terms of passports being processed in different locations in Iraq, the largest number is from Najaf. “Currently, there are 350 passports that are being processed for Indian nationals from Najaf, 290 from Karbala, 190 from Basra and a little bit from Baghdad also. In Baghdad, there is no backlog because we have an embassy there and so all the work that is there is up to date,” the Spokesperson said.

He said seats continue to be available on commercial flights so the ministry was making use of these to fly back Indian nationals to the nearest international airports. Iraq is witnessing serious strife with Sunni militants, backed by al Qaida, capturing two key cities and marching towards Baghdad. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have been displaced in the fighting that broke out on June 10.

When asked about reports that ISIS has declared holy war against India along with many other countries, the Spokesperson downplayed the reports saying India was in safe hands. The Spokesperson also noted that there was a curfew in Karbala after a religious strife.