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Trapped Indian nurses in Iraq 'safe'

All 46 nurses stuck in hospital are safe and adequate assistance has been provided to them, India foreign ministry says.

Last updated: 29 Jun 2014 20:12
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About 40 Indian workers remain under the rebels' captivity in Iraq [EPA]

All the 46 Indian nurses stuck in an Iraqi hospital are safe and adequate assistance has been provided to them after some shortage of funds was being reported, India's foreign ministry officials have said.

"We have been in touch with the nurses just a few hours ago (last contact was)…they remain unhurt; their hospital has not been intruded upon," spokesperson of the Indian foreign ministry, Syed Akbaruddin, said on Sunday.

"I understand they had some shortages in terms of funds for getting their essential provisions and I can confirm… that we have provided those funds through our contacts in that region," he said.

About 10,000 Indian nationals work in Iraq, mostly in areas unaffected by the fighting between the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL) and the national army. About 100 Indian workers are trapped in areas overrun by ISIL.

Certain parts of the Indian community welfare fund which is available for our missions in the gulf will be used for assisting Indian nationals in Iraq. 

Syed Akbaruddin, spokesperson, Indian foreign ministry

Akbaruddin said arrangements have been made to ensure adequate financial assistance to get the essential provisions.

He also said that Indian government had set up three camp offices in cities of Najaf, Karbala and Basra to assist nationals both in conflict zones and non-conflict zones in Iraq for their safe return.

Meanwhile, India's Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj on Sunday held a meeting with envoys posted in gulf countries to discuss the crisis.

The envoys were from Kuwait, Qatar, Oman, Saudi Arabia and other Middle East countries.

She also held a meeting with the relatives of those kidnapped in Iraq.

Akbaruddin added that in the meeting it was agreed upon the mission in Gulf countries would assist Indian nationals in Iraq in every way possible.

"Certain parts of the Indian community welfare fund which is available for our missions in the gulf will be used for assisting Indian nationals in Iraq," said Akbaruddin.

Kidnapping of 40 Indian workers employed with a construction company is the first serious foreign policy crisis for the new government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, with relatives of the hostages demanding swift action to free them.

Dozens more foreigners, including many from Turkey, have been taken captive during the ISIL offensive in towns in the Tigris valley north of Baghdad in recent days.

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Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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