KOTTAYAM : After a temporary respite, the state administration is once again hard-pressed to ensure the safe return of more than 100 Malayali nurses, who are stranded in Benghazi, the second largest city in Libya, as fighting between militia loyal to the Libyan government and Islamist forces has intensified. According to sources, many of the Malayali nurses working in various hospitals in Benghazi, are in serious trouble following militants taking control of hospitals.
Speaking at a press conference here on Monday, parents of some the nurses said that the nurses were detained by the militants and are running short of food and water.
According to the parents, militants have shut down a large number of hospitals in the city and as many as 25 nurses hailing from Kottayam, have been shifted to the Government Medical Centre in Benghazi from different hospitals as fighting raged across the city. “They are unable to return as the hospital management has been refusing to release their passports, travel documents and certificates,” said Thankachan Varghese, chairman of the Action council formed by the worried parents.
He added that many of the nurses also failed to return to their homeland during the rescue operation conducted by the Indian government who were trapped in Tripoli in July and August this year, as their job contract didn’t expire by then. According to E M Thomas, whose daughter Sheena E Thomas, is among the stranded group of nurses, the situation is serious as the nurses are under the custody of the militants. “Though the contract period of the nurses, including my daughter has expired, the hospital management is not letting them leave the country.
Many of them have not been paid salary for months. They are under the custody of either the militants or management authorities and in a highly dangerous situation. ,” Thomas said.
The parents said that they met the Chief Minister Oommen Chandy recently and sought help from the government. He said that Chief Minister has assured all assistance and already informed the Ministry of External Affairs and Indian Ambassador in Tripoli regarding the issue.
Earlier in July and August this year, more than 500 nurses were evacuated safely from Tripoli and Benghazi as fighting between militants and government escalated.