Evacuation speeds up, 7,400 more students to return in 2 days: MEA
THE MINISTRY of External Affairs (MEA) on Thursday said the pace of India’s evacuation operation from Ukraine is accelerating and about 1,000 Indians have left Kharkiv to nearby Pisochyn pursuant to its advisory a day ago.
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MEA spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said at a media briefing that the Indian side is in touch with both Ukrainian and Russian authorities to examine the modalities of how Indians can be evacuated from both Kharkiv and Sumy.
“We are closely following the developments in Kharkiv, Sumy and other cities in eastern Ukraine. As you know yesterday we issued an advisory for Indians in Kharkiv to leave the city by 6 pm local time. Pursuant to this, a large number of students have left Kharkiv and are currently in the nearby issue of Pisochyn. We estimate this number to be around 1,000,” he said.
“We are currently looking at transportation options to move them from there to western Ukraine or southern Ukraine depending on the transportation options,” Bagchi said.
The Indian embassy in Ukraine on Thursday advised all Indian nationals in Kharkiv to fill up an online form on an urgent basis as the Russian onslaught on the eastern Ukrainian city continued. The details sought in the Google form are name, email, phone number, address in Kharkiv, passport number and additional people accompanying any Indian.
Bagchi said a few hundred Indians are believed to be still stuck in Kharkiv and that India is closely following developments in the city along with the situation in other conflict zones in eastern Ukraine.
As war rages on in Ukraine, India on Thursday bolstered efforts to evacuate its citizens from the strife-torn country, with four IAF aircraft bringing back 798 people.
Ministry of External Affairs said around 6,400 people have been brought back under Operation Ganga that was launched to evacuate Indian nationals, while over 7,400 more are expected to return home to safety over the next two days.
Bagchi said the number of people who have left Ukraine since advisories were issued to them to evacuate stood at nearly 18,000.
“The pace of Operation Ganga continues to accelerate. During the last 24 hours, 15 flights landed in India, bringing back more than 3,000 Indians,” he told a media briefing in New Delhi.
On Thursday evening, he said, “With this, it takes the total number of flights under operation Ganga to 30. So, we have brought back around 6,400 Indian citizens.”
In the next 24 hours, 18 flights have been scheduled, including three by C-17 Indian Air Force aircraft and the rest commercial airliners, he said.
In terms of the departure points from Europe, there will be seven flights from Bucharest (Romania), five from Budapest (Hungary), three from Rzeszow (Poland) and one from Košice (Slovakia), Bagchi said.
He said the increased number of flights reflects the large number of Indians who have crossed over from Ukraine and are now in the neighbouring countries.
“We will further step up efforts to bring all these Indians, who are now in safety, back to India at the earliest…We hope that over the next two-three days, a large number of these people will be back home. Till they are brought home, after having crossed the Ukrainian border, our embassies in cooperation with the host governments and local partners are providing food and accommodation to them,” he said.