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MENAFN - Khaleej Times - 22/06/2014
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(MENAFN - Khaleej Times) 46 nurses trapped in tikrit on edge as shelling resumes power outage continues.

the international committee of the red cross (icrc) has ruled out any hasty evacuation of indians trapped in various war zones of iraq including the 46 nurses languishing in despair at a hospital in tikrit the home town of former dictator saddam hussein. the icrc also told khaleej times it has no information about the 39 indians abducted by gunmen in the strife-torn city of mosul.

“the icrc staff in tikrit visited the nurses three days ago to check their condition. they are all fine. we are taking care of all their needs including recharging their telephone credits so that they can be in regular touch with families back home and embassy officials in baghdad” said dabbakeh saleh an icrc spokesman based in the town of arbil.

as shelling resumed on saturday after a week of lull in tikrit nurses contacted by khaleej times said they are under increasing pressure from various people to resume work. “guns have been booming sporadically since morning” said one of the nurses who was shaken up by bombings in a distant neighbourhood while talking to this reporter.

she said power outages continued the whole of friday night keeping all of them awake in sweltering heat while the hospital functioned on generators. the nurses on saturday received a call from chief minister oommen chandy of kerala where they hail from.

another icrc source confided to khaleej times that tikrit is completely under the control of armed militants ever since the al qaeda-inspired islamic state in iraq and the levant drove into the city and occupied the provincial government headquarters on june 11. “let’s not talk about tikrit and mosul” he said.

the nurse khaleej times spoke to said the tikrit teaching hospital has reopened three more floors as there is a flow of casualties. “surgeries are taking place. some of us are already helping in the wards” she added.

she said civilian visitors to the hospital are surprised why the foreign nurses had not been evacuated yet. “if the road to baghdad is dangerous why can&rso;t you be evacuated to arbil?” the civilians were quoted by the nurse as asking.

she argued that some of the patients coming from arbil the fourth largest city in iraq which is 214km north of tikrit have claimed the roads seemed to be clear and safe.

but the icrc official refuted the claim. “people say all kinds of things but ground reality is different. we are there everywhere and i am in arbil. the truth is nobody can tell you what is a safe road” saleh said.

“on their evacuation we are in contact with all people who are party to the conflict. we speak to everybody. we have to make sure nothing untoward happens. unless and until we have that guarantee an evacuation of the nurses is a very dangerous undertaking” saleh added.

asked about the abducted indians he said he has no information about their safety or whereabouts. “we hear what you hear. we have absolutely no idea. i wish i had something to share.”

however the indian government said the indians in captivity are unharmed. external affairs ministry spokesperson syed akbaruddin said contact has been established with the indians in captivity in iraq. “we can confirm that all indians are unharmed” he said.

meanwhile the stranded nurses said they are being taken for a ride by various local people. “yesterday we had a visitor claiming to be the new manager of the hospital. he tried to talk us into resuming work. he has given us one day to respond” one of the nurses said.

“after a while the old pr guy who is a lawyer also came to pressure us to work. when we asked about the terms and conditions he ruled out any back wages” she said.

“no one will come to rescue you so don’t think about going anywhere; start working” she quoted the hospital pr as saying.

“we are resisting from passing on these information to the kerala government or families because of embassy instructions” the nurse added.


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