Keralites in Iraq can book return tickets: Chandy

Thiruvananthapuram : People from Kerala who wish to return from Baghdad can book air tickets if they are able to reach the airport safely, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy said here Wednesday.

“At the moment, six Kerala nurses who have told us that they have no problem in arriving at the Baghdad airport have been asked to book their return tickets online,” he said.

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“Today, the airline that operates from there is Emirates. Air India has stopped its operations,” Chandy told reporters after the weekly cabinet meeting.

This facility has been made available by the state-owned Non-Resident Keralites Affairs (NORKA) department that looks after the welfare of the Kerala diaspora.

“I have written to the prime minister and the external affairs minister to see how best they can make arrangements for Keralites to have a safe return.

“If needed, Air India can even send a special aircraft. If the Centre does not foot the bill for the return, the state government is ready to do so,” Chandy said.

He said the 46 nurses stranded in Tikrit were getting food and water and have no problems, but at the moment it appears that they will be unable to get another job in a safer place in Iraq.

Chandy also told Keralites currently on vacation here and awaiting their return to Iraq that it was better to wait for a while.

“The central government has already made it very clear to all Indians that travel to Iraq is not advisable and hence it’s better to wait,” he said.