Sr official visiting Iraq to rescue trapped Nepalis

- ANIL GIRI, HOM KARKI, Kathmandu / Doha

Jun 23, 2014-

The government has decided to dispatch a senior joint secretary to Iraq for a rescue bid of Nepali citizens, as the sectarian violence in the Middle East country continues to escalate, the Ministry for Foreign Affairs said on Monday.

“The official will assist in the rescue effort by coordinating with the Nepali missions in Pakistan, Kuwait, and international organisations,” said Foreign Minister Mahendra Bahadur Pandey.

Since Nepal does not have its dedicated embassy in Baghdad, the Nepali missions in Pakistan and Kuwait have been looking after Iraq. The growing tension in Iraq, however, has limited the effectiveness of these two missions. Furthermore, the Nepali Embassy in Kuwait is headed by a junior staff, and it is already having a hard time managing the Nepali working in the country.

Pandey said the official will stay in Iraq until the situation fully comes under control in terms of security.

A meeting was held at the ministry on Monday to review the situation inside Iraq and the status of Nepali citizens caught in the strife. The meeting also discussed the measures to rescue and repatriate the Nepalis.

A statement issued by the ministry said: “The internal security situation of Iraq remains complicated, challenging and fragile, and there are possibilities that more areas could be affected due to escalating tension. The ministry urges Nepalis living Iraq to remain cautious, and leave the country as soon as

possible.”

According to the officials, Nepalis living or working within the Green Zone of Capital, Baghdad, are the only considered safe.   

Minister Pandey has said several claims and counter-claims being made by various organisations have made it difficult for the officials to ascertain the population of Nepali working in Iraq and initiate the rescue operation.

“A representative from one human rights organisation claimed that around 60,000 Nepalis are working in Iraq, others say the figure is just over 20,000, and there are some that put the number of Nepalis in Iraq at around 10,000. It has been difficult for us to establish the number of our citizens in Iraq,” Pandey said.

Meanwhile, Nepali Ambassador to Pakistan, Bharat Raj Poudyal, who is also accredited to look after Iraq, has said a request has already been made to the International Organization for Migration (IOM) to rescue and repatriate eight Nepalis who have been trapped in Tikrit area of Iraq since past 13 days.

“We have received reports that those eight Nepalis have been taking shelter in a container at a hospital construction site. We have requested the IOM to rescue them,” Poudyal said over the phone.

Four Nepalis who were kidnapped by a group of radical Sunni insurgents were released on Friday.  They are among the Nepalis awaiting rescue. Five Nepali nationals working in Sudarmadi have also appealed to the government for their rescue. They have been identified as Raju Bahadur Ale Magar of Nuwakot, Om Bahadur Pun of Myagdi and Narayan Raut Chettri, Indra Prasad Dhital and Ram Prasad Kharel of Rupandhei.

Published: 24-06-2014 08:46

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