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Kerala offers to foot air fare for nurses in Iraq


Thiruvananthapuram, June 24 (IANS) The Kerala government is ready to pay for the return of its nurses stranded in strife-torn Iraq if the Centre does not foot the bill, a minister told the state assembly on Tuesday.

"The Centre should meet the expenses of their return journey and if it does not happen, then the state government is ready to bear it," said state Minister for Diaspora K.C. Joseph.

He was replying to a submission that sought the safe return of five nurses from Habeba in Iraq.

Joseph also told the assembly the state government is in touch with the Centre on the issue.

He said there are reports from some place in Iraq that some of the nurses have salary dues.

Ever since the troubles in Iraq intensified, Kerala nurses, especially from places like Karbala region, Baghdad Medical City and Tikrit, were in touch with media persons in Kerala.

But after some TV news channel went overboard with the reporting, these nurses were asked by the Indian embassy officials not to speak to media, a Kerala government official told IANS.

At Tikrit, where reports of trouble were first emanated and the situation is still unfavourable, 46 Kerala nurses are waiting either to return to India or be transferred to a safe place.

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