Special envoy to aid evacuation of Nepalis in Iraq

- ANIL GIRI, Kathmandu
Special envoy to aid evacuation of Nepalis in Iraq

Jun 24, 2014-

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Tuesday appointed one of its senior joint-secretaries, Arjun Kanta Mainali, as the “special representative of the foreign minister for the welfare of Nepalis living in Iraq”, tasking him with coordinating with all relevant stakeholders to ensure measures to pull Nepalis out of the troubled country.

Mainali, who is well versed in Arabic, will be stationed in Kuwait and will work as a “roaming” ambassador. He is authorised to take decisions and make recommendations to the government on necessary rescue measures. He will travel to Iraq, Turkey and Iran as required, said Minister for Foreign Affairs Mahendra Bahadur Pandey.

Mainali, having served in various Nepali missions in the Gulf and Middle East, is known as the West Asia hand in Foreign Ministry.

As the security situation deteriorates in Iraq, coordinated efforts have been essential to facilitate the relocation of an estimated 20,000 Nepalis working there. A meeting chaired by the minister on Tuesday decided to depute Mainali for at least a month as a special envoy. He will leave for Kuwait soon.

On the basis of seven terms and references, Mainali will coordinate will the government, Nepali missions in Islamabad, Nepalis living in Iraq, officials at Iraqi Foreign Ministry, international humanitarian agencies such as Red Cross and International Organization for Migration and embassies of neighbouring countries based in Kuwait for arranging safe evacuation of the trapped Nepalis.

Ministry spokesman Dipak Dhital said a special post was created to depute Mainali with the authority of a crisis response unit.

“He can take decisions urgently and his recommendation will be valued in rescue work,” said Dhital. In the past week, the ministry has received 16 calls at 1660-01-00186, a toll-free number, and 30 emails to rescue@mofa.gov.np. A group of Nepalis requested for their relocation to safety.

Since the killing of 12 Nepalis in Iraq in 2004, Nepal has not permitted its citizens to work there. Most Nepalis who reached there through illegal channels have hesitated to respond to the government’s call for contact fearing punishment.

Published: 25-06-2014 08:26

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