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SOS call received from Kerala nurses in Iraq

India TV News Desk 16 Jun 2014, 17:13:24 IST
India TV News Desk
New Delhi: Amid escalating violence in Iraq, 44 Indian nurses working there have been asked to indicate in writing whether they want government assistance in returning home.  

Most of them reportedly say they would prefer to stay on, said sources in the Ministry for External Affairs.

Sources in the Ministry for External Affairs told the new channel that many nurses preferred to stay on.  

However, the Kerala government said it received an SOS call from a group of nurses on Friday after which Chief Minister Oomen Chandy called Foreign Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj to brief her, according to the report.  

Sources in Chandy's government say that the nurses who phoned for help want to return to Kerala but are worried about how they will be escorted safely from hospitals to airports.  

Their employers have allegedly said the nurses are free to head home, but they won't be responsible for their safety once the nurses leave hospital premises.

Meanwhile, India on Sunday asked its citizens not to travel to the troubled-torn country and set up a 24-hour helpline to offer assistance to those living there.

The government also asked Indians residing in Iraq to consider leaving the country in view of the "precarious" security situation there.  

"In view of the precarious security situation prevailing in Iraq, Indian nationals are advised to avoid all travel to Iraq," External Affairs Ministry (MEA) said.

The Indian Embassy in Baghdad has set up a 24-hour helpline which can be accessed for information or assistance. The MEA also said "Indian nationals in Iraq may consider leaving the country by commercial means if it is safe to do so."

It also asked Indians living in violence-affected areas in Iraq to remain indoors and remain in contact with Indian Embassy in Baghdad.

"Those nationals who do not have travel documents or need other consular services are advised to seek assistance from the Indian Embassy in Baghdad," the MEA also said.

The MEA has given the following phone numbers for those who need any assistance -Tel. No. ꮼ 770 444 4899; ꮼ 770 444 4899 (Mobile), Tel No. ꮼ 770 484 3247; ꮼ 770 484 3247 (Mobile).