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Indian govt under pressure over nurses abducted in Iraq
July 4, 2014, 6:15 am

Iraqi security forces arrest followers of Shiite cleric Mahmoud al-Sarkhi after clashes with his followers in the Shiite holy city of Karbala, 50 miles (80 kilometers) south of Baghdad, Iraq, Wednesday, July 2, 2014 [AP]

Iraqi security forces arrest followers of Shiite cleric Mahmoud al-Sarkhi after clashes with his followers in the Shiite holy city of Karbala, 50 miles (80 kilometers) south of Baghdad, Iraq, Wednesday, July 2, 2014 [AP]

46 Indian nurses trapped in a hospital in Tikrit, the site of fierce fighting in Iraq this week, were forcibly moved to an unknown location in Mosul by ISIL, the Sunni insurgent group that has claimed control over northern and western Iraq.

A report on Friday in Indian daily Hindustan Times says one of the nurses told them that the Indian government has taken too long, and should send coffins for them now.

“Our government wasted a lot of time. Now, they can send coffins to take us back,” the national daily quoted one of the abducted nurses Sona Jospeh.

At a press briefing in New Delhi, Indian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin was asked whether the nurses had been abducted by a militia.

“They are not going of their own free will. This is a situation where lives are at stake,” he said.

“We have been in touch with humanitarian organizations and they had, in this instance, indicated their inability to reach the nurses given the difficulties in road transport,” he added.

Official figures say 10000 Indians were working in Iraq. The Indian government confirmed last month that forty Indians were abducted in Mosul town of strife-torn Iraq. The labourers have not yet been rescued.

A former Indian envoy has been sent to Baghdad to strengthen the Indian Mission there which is trying to help the Indians in violence-affected areas.

Most of the abducted nurses are from the southern Indian state of Kerala who had left their homes to earn higher wages in the Middle East.

Remittances by migrant workers to India totaled $71 billion in 2013, according to the World Bank, making India the leading receiver of remittances in the world, and Indians in the Gulf accounted for more than 30 per cent of that.

232 million people live and work outside their countries, according to the United Nations and migrant remittances have tripled in the last decade and are three times the size of global aid budgets.

China, which is the second leading receiver of remittances, urged the UN to highlight the issue of migration when drafting the post-2015 development agenda.

The Indian government had launched a new program in 2012 to aid the country’s migrant workers in the Gulf to put aside savings for their return and resettlement.

Meanwhile, Iraq’s army has been trying regain control of Tikrit from the ISIL, sending tanks and armoured vehicles to pushback the militants.

For Washington, the challenge from ISIL will provide a severe test of President Obama’s legendary cool-headedness and of America’s ability to engage in patient, creative diplomacy, writes US national security and foreign policy expert Robert Dreyfuss.

“Because of America’s investment of blood and treasure during the 2003-2011 war in Iraq, Obama is under tremendous pressure to reengage militarily in Iraq – whether it means U.S. airstrikes, drone attacks, stepped-up military aid to Baghdad, intelligence sharing, or even U.S. military advisers,” says Dreyfuss.

 

TBP and Agencies

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