Kerala nurses in Iraq demand return home or change of place

Thiruvananthapuram, Jun 18: The 46 Kerala nurses stranded in strife-torn Tikrit town in northern Iraq on Wednesday asked the Indian embassy officials to either take them home or change their place of work.

Speaking to IANS over phone from Tikrit, the hometown of deposed and executed Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein now under control of Sunni militants, a Kerala nurse said the Indian embassy officials speak to them over phone every day and find out if they have taken food while also enquiring about their safety.

“Yesterday (Tuesday), a Red Cross official first came and spoke to us. Later, another official came and took our details. We have told them and the embassy officials that either we be given a job in a place away from Tikrit or get a safe passage back to Kerala,” said the nurse, not willing to be identified.

Of the 46 nurses, 30 reached Tikrit last August while the rest arrived in February. Following a change in the local government in Tikrit, their contractual obligations have changed and now they have been promised pay of just $200 a month while earlier it was $750 per month.

“We are staying put in our residence here and eagerly waiting to hear good news. We are sitting in our rooms, as we have no idea of media reports of 40 Indians being kidnapped from Mosul It’s about 60 km from here. For the past two days, we did not hear any sound of explosions. We are all praying,” added the nurse.

The office of Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy told IANS it is in touch with the external affairs ministry in Delhi, which is giving directions to the embassy officials.