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Govt to ensure safe return of Indians from Iraq

Sushma Swaraj

Government today assured Rajya Sabha that it will “leave no stone unturned” for the safe return of Indian nationals

Sushma SwarajNew Delhi: Government today assured Rajya Sabha that it will “leave no stone unturned” for the safe return of Indian nationals in captivity in Iraq as members raised serious concern over the plight of stranded workers from India in that country.

“The safety and security of Indian nationals, especially 41 Indian nationals in captivity in Mosul, is a matter of foremost concern and pre-occupation for us. We are leaving no stone unturned for their safe return,” External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj told Rajya Sabha replying to a Calling Attention motion of K C Tyagi (JD-U).

Noting that the government remains “deeply concerned” over the ongoing conflict and deteriorating security scenario in Iraq resulting out of sudden attacks by the Islamic State of Iraq and Sham (ISIS), she assured the House “it would remain the earnest endeavour of our government to assist every Indian citizen currently in Iraq and ensure their safe return”.

Reading out her reply amid noisy scenes in the House over the UPSC row, she said the government fully shares the concerns of members regarding the recent developments in Iraq and safety and security of Indian nationals stranded there.

“The Government of India has been regularly and closely monitoring the security situation in Iraq. Since the onset of crisis in Iraq, we have regularly issued travel advisories for our nationals, including on June 15, 24 and 28.

“Indian nationals have been advised to avoid all travel to Iraq, until further notification and a ban has been imposed by the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs on emigration to Iraq by ECR category travelers effective June 19 this year,” she said.

Swaraj said there were an estimated 22,000 Indians in Iraq at the onset of the conflict.

“This included 500 in Baghdad, 2300 in Najaf, 1000 in Karbala, 3000 in Basra, 15,000 in Kurdistan and 200 in other cities. Some Indians got trapped in the conflict areas following these sudden attacks,” she said.

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