Workers return after weeks of ordeal

KATHMANDU: At least 11 Nepali migrant workers, who were stranded in Iraq for several weeks, landed in Kathmandu this evening at around 10:20 pm on a FlyDubai plane via Dubai.

These workers were stranded in Tikrit for several days before being rescued and relocated in Kirkur and Erbil of Kurdistan.

Santosh Lamichhane of Nirmal Pokhari, Kaski; Prakash Biswokarma of Saradanagar, Chitwan; Dhana Bahadur BK of Kankari, Rukum; and Jit Bahadur Tamang of Mulkharka, Okhaldhunga were rescued from Tikrit and relocated in Erbil, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement today.

These four labourers were supposed to return home on July 10, but couldn’t do so owing to the delay in getting ‘exit permit’ from local officials. They were abducted from Tikrit and later released by Islamic militants last month.

Deputy Chief of Mission of Nepali embassy in Pakistan Tirtha Aryal had flown to Erbil from Islamabad on Monday and was engaged in efforts for their early evacuation from Iraq, MoFA Spokesperson Deepak Dhital told The Himalayan Times.

Seven other Nepalis were brought to Erbil from nearby city of Kirkur on Thursday by DCM Aryal himself. They are Top Bahadur Basnet of Hapur, Dang; Mohan Kumar Basnet of Bayarban, Morang; Presh Giri of Nirmali Danda, Khotang; Bishnu Bahadur Basnet of Sukjor, Ramechhap; Subash Madi of Dhankuta; Indra Kumar Limbu of Khuwafok, Dhankuta and Anil Kumar Chaudhary of Sishaniya, Dang, MoFA said in its statement.

These seven people used to work in local restaurants in Tikrit. They were stranded after their workplaces were invaded by militants in

mid-June.

They spent more than two weeks on the premises of a local hospital and at the restaurant where they worked without any access to food or any form of communication before being rescued by the International Committee of the Red Cross and the Nepali Embassy in Pakistan, which concurrently looks after Iraq.

Earlier this month, Foreign Minister Mahendra Bahadur Pandey had sent MoFA Joint Secretary Arjun Kant Mainali as his special representative to rescue the Nepalis stranded in Iraq. Mainali reached Iraq on Tuesday after a two-week stopover in Kuwait City.

Mainali said the first lot of stranded Nepalis in Iraq had been rescued successfully and he would now take stock of the situation of other Nepalis working in the war-hit Iraq, where Nepal has banned its citizens from going for employment. “Now, I will try to find if there are more people willing to return home and facilitate their return,” Mainali told this correspondent via e-mail.

Source: THT