Yemen crisis: Memories of Iraq conflict back to haunt nurses

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Even as the Indian Navy makes a valiant attempt to rescue the Indians stranded in Yemen, the concerns of the families back home grows. Not very long back several families from Kerala had spent sleepless nights after the ISIS had increased their offensive in Iraq which had left several Indians especially nurses from Kerala stranded.

The situation is no different this time either. Out of the 3500 Indians who are stranded in Yemen, there are 500 nurses from Kerala alone. A rough data provided by the Kerala government also suggests that almost 60 per cent of the Indians stranded in the war torn nation are from Kerala.

Yemen:Indians struggle to make ends meet

Same story same misery

The misery of the families which wait for their loved ones to return are similar to what one had witnessed when a similar situation broke out in Iraq. The Indian government had to move heaven and earth to rescue the Indians stranded in Iraq and the situation this time around in Yemen is no different.

Two families that OneIndia spoke with narrated the miseries of this never ending wait. We have been assured by the government that our loved ones will be rescued. My daughter is working as a nurse in Yemen. She had no choice but to go there because we are in desperate need of money, said one family.

The family speaking from Pudupally says that their daughter Mary has been in Yemen since the past two years. We had taken a loan of Rs 8 lakh to send her to Yemen and she would send back money every month with which we would clear the loan says her father.

Now she will have to return and this means that there will be no income for at least a few months until the crisis settles down. We managed to get in touch with Mary who told us that she is safe, but also added that the situation was very bad.

We know once the crisis settles down she will go back because money is extremely important says her father Antony.

Demand in war torn nations

For these nurses it is like chosing between the devil and the deep sea. While there are countries which offer jobs for nurses, they still chose conflict zones since the salaries are almost double.

A nurse would earn anything between Rs 20000 to Rs 30000 in India would make at least three times that sum if she takes up a job in either Iraq or Yemen.

There is a great demand for Indian nurses in these war torn countries since they are considered to be honest and dedicated in their work. Moreover the nurses too need this kind of a salary to make ends meet. After all the cost to get to these countries which includes travel papers and other formalities costs a lot of money.

This would mean that for the first five years they are clearing the loans that they have taken. To add to their misery they never get their salaries for the first three months.

The agency which sends them has a pre-condition that they shall give their first three months of salary to them and only if they agree will arrangements be made to send them abroad.

A way of life

For the 20000 odd nurses who pass out of nursing colleges every year in Kerala, going to a war torn nation and working under very risky conditions has become a way of life. The money is more important than their life and hence they are ready to take the risk.

When the Iraq crisis broke out several of them were told by their families not to return. However out of the 40 nurses who were rescued by the Indian government from Mosul, at least 30 have gone back once the situation settled down.

Marina who was one of the nurses to be rescued told OneIndia that it is a way of life for them. We have no choice as the kind of money that the hospitals in Iraq pay we would not get in India. Please do not say it is greed, it is necessity Marina says.

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