Saudi minister meets Kerala nurses in troubled Jizan city

Thiruvananthapuram, Sep 22 (IANS) Saudi Arabia’s Health Minister Khalid bin Abdulaziz Al-Falih has met around 50 nurses from Kerala in the troubled city of Jizan along the Yemen border, and assured them that those who wish to stay will be transferred to safe places.

This action by the Saudi minister has been appreciated by the worried nurses, who termed it a “very nice gesture”.

A nurse told IANS over telephone from Jizan that after the meeting with the minister on Monday, they feel assured that they would be safe.

“The minister spoke to us and said that those who want to go back can go, but it will take the usual course (of time) and those who wish to be transferred to a safe place will be given that,” the nurse said.

She said 25 of them “have decided to return and our papers will be processed once the present holy season gets over”.

“The usual procedure for getting an exit visa is around three months,” said the nurse, who was till recently working at the 150-bed Samtah general hospital attached to the health ministry.

She said they will resume their duties at the hospital from next week.

Another Kerala nurse, who joined work very recently, said the minister assured them that they will be transferred to a hospital at a location where there is no tension.

“We will begin our work on Sunday at a new hospital far away from Samtah. We are around 25 nurses who came very recently and now that they have given us a transfer to a safe place, we will do our duty and will not return,” said the nurse.

The 50 nurses were evacuated on Sunday night from the troubled region of Samtah, very close to the Yemen border, to Jizan, around an hour’s drive from Samtah.

Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy on Monday spoke to External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and told her about the nurses’ situation.

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