Kerala nurses evacuated from Yemen seek state govt help in finding jobs

Kerala nurses evacuated from strife-torn Yemen have approached the state government seeking rehabilitation. Backed by the Socialist Unity Centre of India (SUCI), Indian Nurses’ Parents Association has submitted a memorandum to Chief Minister Oommen Chandy in this regard.

According to the state government’s Non-Resident Keralites Affairs (NORKA) department, of the 4,000-odd Indians evacuated from Yemen, 2,400 belong to Kerala. Of them, at least 1,000 are nurses. Besides them, there are nurses who returned from two other war zones, Iraq and Libya.

NORKA’s chief executive officer C R Kannan said rehabilitation of nurses who returned from Yemen, Libya and Iraq is a tough job for the government. “Most nurses who returned from Libya and Iraq only did a General Nursing and Midwifery course. Currently, hospitals prefer nursing graduates (with BSc Nursing degree). Also, nurses who worked abroad are not ready to work for lower pay in Kerala hospitals,’’ said Kannan.

He said for the 1000-odd nurses who returned from Iraq and Libya, NORKA had arranged a special recruitment drive in which four hospitals from the Middle East participated. Of the 600 nurses who attended the screening test, 350 have been shortlisted. They would be initially recruited as patient assistant, but would be absorbed as nurses if they meet required criteria.

SUCI leader Mini K Philip said there are nurses’ vacancies in state-run and private hospitals. “Nurses are reluctant to join private hospitals because of the meagre salary. Irrespective of their experience, most hospitals still pay nurses between Rs 8,000-10,000. A government-assigned commission had recommended that they be paid allowance for overtime duty. But, hospitals are reluctant. The government should bring in a legislation regarding the service and salary conditions of nurses,’’ said Philip. She added that government hospitals in Kerala follow a staff pattern fixed decades back. If it is revised factoring in changes in the health sector, new posts could be created.

United Nurses Association president Jasminsha said financial constraints at home are still forcing nurses to fly to war zones. “Kerala nurses are still working in Libya and Yemen. A section of them do not want to come back because of financial liability, including educational loans. Recently, a few batches of nurses went to Syria and Iraq despite the volatile situation in those countries,” he said.

NORKA CEO C R Kannan said they were getting distress calls from nurses still in Libya. Many have complained they haven’t got salary for months and their certificates/documents are withheld at hospitals, he said.

The Indian Express