Migrant Telangana workers caught in U.S.-Iran crossfire

Over 10,000 from State believed to be working in Erbil

Tens of thousands of migrant workers from the State, especially from the undivided districts of Nizamabad, Karimnagar and Adilabad, have been reportedly stranded in Iraq without work and food for days together. They suffer the worst of the bomb attacks and crossfire between Iranian and American armies in the wake of the assassination of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani on Sunday.

The Iran-US unrest increased the woes of Telangana workers following the missile attacks on an Iraqi airbase at Bardarash, 50 km from Erbil, the largest populated city in the Iraqi Kurdistan, where the US forces are based. About 10,000 workers from the State are reported to be working in Erbil and 100 in Bardarash.

The migrant workers, who were already in dire straits owing to invalid visa and shutdown of a number of factories are at their wits’ end, not knowing what to do. “They are spending sleepless nights on streets, unable to get enough food. They are escaping from the Iraqi police, staying with their Telugu acquaintances,” said E. Dakshina Moorthy, who just returned from Erbil on a 15-day company leave.

“About 80% of workers from Telangana in Erbil have no proper documents. Deceived by agents and their lawyers in Iraq, they arrived in the Gulf country, borrowing money at high interest rates. If they continue to stay in Iraq they would be imprisoned and imposed hefty penalties. If they want to go back home, they have to pay $ 500 for a month of stay,” said Mr Moorthy, who is also Gulf Telangana Welfare and Cultural Association representative in Erbil.

GTWCA president P. Basanth Reddy said unless the Central and Telangana governments intervened, the workers stranded in Iraq could not be rescued.

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