The government has issued a second advisory in a month, warning Indian nationals against going to conflict-ridden Yemen after it found that many nurses were on a Yemen Airways flight from Mumbai to the Yemeni capital of Sana’a last week.
But Indians remain unfazed by the security situation in the Middle East country and hundreds of nurses continue to head for trouble-torn countries such as Libya, Iraq and Yemen lured by high salaries.
“I was getting a salary of Rs 48,000 ($800) against Rs 10,000 I was getting in Bangalore,” says Sinimol, a nurse who worked in Iraq.
Some of them refuse to leave conflict zones while others return because they are saddled with massive loans at home. Some nurses have to pay more than Rs 1 lakh to get a job in Gulf.
More than 4,000 people were brought back from Yemen in April but hundreds of nurses refused to leave for the longest time. “Many of these nurses come through agents who are out to dupe them. They keep their travel documents with them, in many cases give them half of the salary promised,” said an official familiar with the Iraq evacuation. “Most of them have loans to pay, they stay on in conflict zones until the last moment.”
The second advisory in a month came as four Indians were taken hostage in the Islamic State-controlled Libyan city of Sirte last week. Two of them were released after two days in captivity and efforts are on to secure the release of the other two.
S Irudayarajan of the Centre for Development Studies in Thiruvananthapuram, who has published many papers on Indian workers abroad, says such advisories and bans are not effective.
“The international labour market is very competitive. If Indian drivers don’t go to Libya, let’s say, the drivers from Nepal will go. The people prefer to be migrant workers to make more money and security situations hardly play in their minds,” said Irudayarajan, who was a consultant for the ministry of overseas Indian affairs.