06/25/2014, 00.00
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Nepal appeals to religious leaders to freed 60,000 nationals trapped in Iraq

by Christopher Sharma
The Foreign Ministry asked for the help of Interreligious Council of Nepal (Icn), that comprises Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist and Christian leaders. Most of the Nepalis in Iraq entered illegally and have no passport neither travel-documents.

Kathmandu (AsiaNews) - Nepal appeals to all religious leaders and international community to help rescuing about 60.000 its citizens stranded in Iraq, where Sunni militants are fighting against Shiite government. The government deputes a diplomat as special envoy to arrange rescue operation from today.

"The official will be coordinated with our missions in Pakistan and Kuwait, and with international organizations," Nepali Foreign Minister Mahendra Bahadur Pandey said. "We don't have official data and we are tracing out with the help of various associations," he added talking with AsiaNews.

The Foreign Ministry held a special meeting to make formal appeal to Interreligious Council of Nepal (Icn), that comprises Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist and Christian leaders. The officials believe that the religious leader may establish connection with both sides in Iraq.

"We will try our best ti avoid violence" said Nazrul Hussein, Islamic leader and General Secretary of Icn. "Nepal's religious leaders are ready for peace and we stand together against all kinds of violence", added fr. Robin Rai, a catholic priest.

A statement issued yesterday by the ministry said: "The internal security situation of Iraq remains complicated, challenging and fragile. There are possibilities that more areas could be affected due to escalating tension. The ministry urges Nepalis living in Iraq to remain careful and leave the country as soon as possible."

According to the officials, Nepalis living or working within the Green Zone of Baghdad are the only considered safe.

Kathmandu has prohibited its nationals to visit Iraq. Iraq has a ban on employing foreigners, but Nepalis arrived there via secondary routes, as India, UAE, Qatar and Jordan. Therefore most of them work illegally and don't have passport, neither travel-documents.



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