Govt sets up 24-hour control room for information on Indians stranded in Iraq

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Govt sets up 24-hour control room for information on Indians stranded in Iraq
Baghdad, June 17: The government today set up a round-the-clock control room to provide information to families of Indians stranded in violence-hit areas of Iraq.

"In view of the prevailing security situation in Iraq and to provide information to all concerned, a 24-hour Control Room has been set up in the Ministry of External Affairs," the Ministry said.

Earlier, External Affairs Ministry spokesperson said government was monitoring the situation on an hourly basis and was in touch with Iraqi government.

Around 46 nurses are stranded in Tikrit, besides nearly 40 other Indians in Mosul. Insurgent outfits have seized the two cities.

The phone numbers of the control room are +91 11 2301 2113 +91 11 2301 7905, +91 11 2301 4104 while its email address is controlroom@mea.gov.in.

The Indian Embassy in Baghdad has already set up a a 24- hour helpline to offer assistance to Indian nationals there. Over 10,000 Indians are estimated to be currently living in Iraq.

Earlier in the day, Secretary (East) in the Ministry of External Affairs Anil Wadhwa met the Iraqi Ambassador Ahmad Tahsin Ahmad Berwari and both of them discussed the possibilities of ground-level cooperation in assisting Indian nationals in violence-affected areas.

In response to a request by the Indian government, a team of International Red Crescent contacted the nurses in Tikrit and reported back to the Indian authorities that they were well, the sources said.

In Thiruvananthapuram, Minister for Non-Resident Keralites Affairs K C Joseph told the Kerala Assembly that the government had information that the nurses stranded in Tikrit were safe.

The Indian Embassy in Baghdad has already set up a a 24- hour helpline to offer assistance to Indian nationals there. Over 10,000 Indians are estimated to be currently living in Iraq.

Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy had already written to Swaraj seeking urgent steps for safe evacuation of the Keralites.

The government had on Sunday asked Indians residing in Iraq to consider leaving the country in view of the "precarious" security situation. In an advisory, the government had also asked people not to travel to Iraq.

The militants in the country had intensified their offensive and reached within 60 kilometres of Baghdad.

Strongly condemning the violence in Iraq, the government yesterday had said it was "deeply concerned" with the deteriorating security situation in that country resulting from recent attacks and taking over of some cities, including Mosul and Tikrit, by terrorist outfits since June 8.

Terming the attacks a "direct threat to the security and territorial integrity" of Iraq, the Ministry of External Affairs had said India remained strongly committed to the "emergence of a stable, peaceful, united and democratic Iraq" which is in the interest of regional and global peace.

"The Government of India strongly condemns such attacks and firmly stands by the government and people of Iraq in their fight against international terrorism and in their efforts to preserve the unity and territorial integrity of the friendly country of Iraq," it said.

PTI

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