About 2,200 Indians in non-conflict zone in southern Iraq have expressed their desire to leave the for home and they will be in India in the next 36 to 48 hours even as 200 others reached in New Delhi early on Sunday morning.
As the momentum of evacuation picked up, the facilitation process of transporting Indian nationals from Iraq is focused on the non conflict zone in southern Iraq, External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin told reporters on Sunday.
Four mobile teams of six persons each have been placed in Najaf, Karbala and Basra apart from Baghdad which have collected details of those who would like to leave for home.
"Our advice to them is to leave. But if they are facing problems or are staying back because of tickets, Government of India is ready to provide them. We are also ready to provide assistance in terms of contractual problems. Based on that our assessment is 2,200 Indian nationals have in some form or other expressed their desire to leave Iraq," he said.
Of these, Akbaruddin said 600 have been provided tickets by the government through the facilitation process of the Baghdad mission. 600 have been paid by their companies.
Another 1,600 were being provided tickets by government for their return, he said adding that since developments in the last 48 hours, the government has calibrated its approach and the momentum of bringing back people has picked up.
On Saturday, 170 people were brought and this morning an Iraqi Airways special flight brought 200 people to Delhi. In addition Iraqi Airways is also flying normal flights from Baghdad. In the next 36 to 48 hours, two other special flights from Najaf and Basra will bring 200 and 280 people respectively to Delhi.
In addition a group of 117 passengers will arrive early on Monday morning in Delhi by a commercial flight that will be diverted to Najaf to pick them up.
Akbaruddin said the Indian mission was processing documents for facilitating the exit of 200 plus people. In the next 48 hours, all the 1,600 people who have expressed their desire to come back on tickets paid by government would have been transported.
Most of the 600 people, whose tickets have been paid for by the government, were already back in the country. They are from Hyderabad, Bangalore, Kolkata and Mumbai.
The spokesman said that there were ten commercial flights available from Baghdad to various points in the gulf and and the government was using all seats that were available on these flights. In addition, the government was commissioning special flights of Iraqi Airways from other areas.
"With that we will be able to complete the process of bringing back all those who wanted to come back. We are also doing due diligence," he said.
Referring to the easing of the situation, Akbaruddin said that approximately 480 calls were received in control rooms in Delhi and Baghdad. He said it was a judgement of the individuals whether they want to come back.
Now the calls have come down from 60 to 80 calls to 4 to 6 calls a day reflecting the considerable lowering of levels of anxiety and concern.
On the problem of Indians in the conflict zone, he said he would not like to go into it now, though even one life is valuable to the government.
Image: Indian workers returning to India seen at the Delhi airport on Sunday