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Fearing loan sharks, Indian nurses stuck in Iraq don't want to get back home

Author: Daniel P George
Publication:  The Times of India
Date: June 20, 2014
URL: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Fearing-loan-sharks-Indian-nurses-stuck-in-Iraq-dont-want-to-get-back-home/articleshow/36851889.cms

A majority of the 46 Indian nurses stuck in a hospital in the strife-torn town of Tikrit in Iraq are not keen on returning, because of financial constraints, despite facing extreme risk.

 Nurses in touch with TOI said most of them had gone to Iraq for the job after taking loans, and returning would put them in an a financial crisis back home. What's worse, many of them have been working without pay since the last four months.

 There are 46 Indian nurses stuck in this hospital, most of them from Kerala. Kerala chief minister Oomen Chandy on Thursday urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to intervene and see that the stranded nurses are evacuated at the earliest.

Jency James, one of the nurses employed with the Tikrit teaching hospital, told TOI on Thursday that 14 of them who have completed a year in the job were keen on getting back to India, while the rest who took up the job in January want to remain there as they are afraid of loan sharks in Kerala.

Jency said, "I cannot think of returning home as I have a loan of Rs 1.5 lakh. All I can pray for is that peace prevails and there should be enough security for us to move out." She added that a nurse there gets an average salary of Rs 55,000, but she had not been paid for the last four months.

 She said aid workers of International Red Crescent visited them on Thursday and inquired about their well-being and safety.

 In Mosul, another disturbed town of Iraq, 41 construction workers are stranded. Diplomats said the Indian government is keeping its options open for possible evacuation if the situation demands. ISIS militants have overrun the Iraqi cities of Mosul and Tikrit and are proceeding towards Baghdad.

A vehicle burned during clashes between Iraqi security forces and al Qaeda-linked Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant in the city of Baquba

The Iraqi government has conveyed to New Delhi that it has narrowed in on a location where 30 men from Punjab are being held hostage. Neither special envoy Suresh Reddy, who India has sent to Iraq, nor Indian Ambassador to Iraq Ajay Kumar was available for comment.
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