Kochi: Kerala nurses evacuated from Libya, who arrived here yesterday, are so traumatised by their experience in the violence-hit country that as one of them said “words cannot describe our pain”.
Tears rolled down the cheeks of the nurses who met their relatives on arriving here at 8.50am. The nurses, 44 of them, were first taken from Libya’s capital city Tripoli to the Tunisian border and then to Dubai Monday evening.
“Words cannot describe the nightmare that I underwent there and I don’t have words also to describe my happiness when I met my husband and daughter,” Nancy Elizabeth, a nurse, told IANS, breathing freedom at last.
Libya has of late been seeing a violent power struggle among rival groups — the worst since after the fall of its leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. Rival militias have been fighting around Tripoli international airport, attempting to take control of the airport.
Another group of 43 Kerala nurses is now at the Tunisian border but the date for their return home has not yet been finalised. Ten nurses were to take a flight from there last evening.
Elizabeth said: “I was in Libya for almost one year. All of us paid around Rs150,000 as recruitment fees to go there.”
“I managed to get all my money, except last month’s salary. The nurses working there are yet to get the gratuity and other benefits that come to around Rs200,000,” said Elizabeth, who now plans to go to Delhi and find a job.
P Sudeep, chief executive officer of Roots-Norka, the state agency that looks after the welfare of non-resident Keralites, told IANS that “each of them have been given Rs2,000 as travel allowance for their journey to their homes”.
Chief Minister Oommen Chandy and state Minister for Diaspora K C Joseph spoke to the nurses over phone as soon as they reached here.
A nurse said: “The journey to the Tunisian border by bus was a nightmarish one. It took about five hours to reach there. All of us were praying as we could hear gunshots. At one point, we saw two people being killed.”
Another nurse said the sounds of bombs and gunshots rattled them.
“Since the Tripoli airport has been destroyed, we never believed that we could return home. Special thanks to God... We will never forget the terrifying bus journey to the Tunisian border,” she said.
Yet another nurse said that “since we returned under emergency situation, we did not get certificates for our work experience there”.
“Some of us have not been paid our last four months’ salary. But we have returned safely. Don’t know what to do next, but I am happy.”