In the midst of the latest escalation of tensions in Iraq, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) in Nepal yesterday said that Nepalis living and working in Iraq are safe.
As per reports, Iran had fired more than twelve rockets at two Iraqi army base facilitating US troops following the killing of Iranian military officer Qassem Soleimani by the US in Baghdad a week ago. The rockets were launched at the Ain al-Asad base in Anbar area and a base in Arbil.
MoFA Spokesperson Bharat Raj Paudyal said there are no reports of setbacks, including Nepali nationals up until this point. “We are constantly in touch with our embassies in the region and they too are in touch with Nepalis there,” he said.
“The government is fully committed to the safety of Nepalis living there, and is prepared for evacuation if need be.”
The MoFA has coordinated with Nepali government offices in middle-eastern nations to remain alert with respect to wellbeing of Nepalis working there during the escalated tensions. It has likewise guided the government offices to stay in contact with Nepalis living and working there and to consistently update about the situation.
Nepalis living there have likewise been advised to keep in contact with the respective embassies.
More than 15,000 Nepalis are living in Iraq even though it is a banned destination for Nepali migrants. It is believed that Nepalis end up there through unlawful channels. Most of them are working in the US Embassy as security guards and support staff. Others work at US military bases in Iraq and with companies that transport supplies to military bases.
The government authorities said they didn’t have the accurate number of Nepalis working for local and foreign establishments in Iraq since they were not officially documented.
Deputy Chief of Mission at the Nepali Embassy in Kuwait that looks after Iraq, Prakash Mani Paudel, said the embassy yesterday talked to Nepalis living in all regions of Iraq, but no complaints were received. “They did not report any panic situation,” he said.
In the meantime, Nepali Army has directed Nepal Army (NA) peacekeepers situated in UN bases in Kirkuk and Erbil to be alert. Issuing a press release, the NA stated that all Nepali peacekeepers in Iraq were safe. NA also directed Nepali peacekeepers in Lebanon and Syria to adopt caution and regularly report to the mission headquarters and NA headquarters.