New Delhi: India on Sunday continued its efforts to evacuate over 700 Indian students from the embattled northeastern Ukrainian city of Sumy but with little success as severe shelling and airstrikes continued.
The Indian embassy in Ukraine said a team from the mission has been stationed in Poltava city to coordinate the safe passage of the Indian students in Sumy to western borders via Poltava, and advised them to be ready to leave at short notice.
Separately, the Indian embassy in Hungary said it is in the “last leg” of its evacuation mission and asked students who are staying in their own accommodations to reach Budapest for return to India.
India has brought back over 15,920 of its nationals in 76 flights under mission “Operation Ganga” which was launched on February 26 following Russia’s military aggression against Ukraine, according to officials here.
On Indians stuck in Sumy, people familiar with the matter said there was no indication yet from the Russian and Ukrainian sides to create a “humanitarian corridor” or to put in place a ceasefire to evacuate them notwithstanding India’s repeated calls for such an arrangement.
They said India has been stepping up efforts to ensure early evacuation of the students from the Sumy State University.
“There has been no real movement. But we are continuing with our efforts to evacuate them,” said one of the people cited above.
India has been urging both Russian and Ukrainian authorities to create a safe passage for the students to either move to the Russian border or to western Ukraine for their exit to Romania, Hungary or Poland.
“Team from Embassy of India is stationed in Poltava City to coordinate the safe passage of Indian students stranded in Sumy to Western borders via Poltava. Confirmed time & date will be issued soon. Indian students advised to be ready to leave on short notice,” the Indian embassy in Ukraine tweeted on Sunday night.
On Saturday morning, the Indian students posted a video saying they have decided to leave for the Russian border and that the Indian government and the embassy in Ukraine will be responsible if anything happens to them.
Following the video, the Indian embassy in Ukraine requested them not to endanger their lives and conveyed that it will leave no stone unturned to safely evacuate them.
The students relented following the assurance.
Chief of Russia’s National Centre for State Defence Control Colonel Gen Mikhail Mizintsev claimed on Saturday that the Ukrainian side has refused to agree to a Russian proposal to open humanitarian corridors in Kharkiv and Sumy.
External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said on Saturday that almost all Indians have left Kharkiv and evacuation from Pisochyn was nearing completion.
The Indian embassy in Hungary suggested the evacuation mission from the country is nearing completion as it is beginning the last leg of flights under the operation.
India has been bringing back its nationals from Romania, Poland, Hungary, Slovakia and Moldova after they crossed over to these countries from Ukraine through land border transit points.
Ukraine had closed its airspace for civilian aircraft after Russia began the military operation.
According to officials, around 2,500 Indians were evacuated on 13 flights in the last 24 hours.
They said seven flights are scheduled over the next 24 hours to bring back stranded Indians from Hungary, Romania and Poland. There will be five flights from Budapest, one each from Rzeszow in Poland and Suceava in Romania.
“Under Operation Ganga, so far 76 flights have brought over 15,920 Indians back to India. Out of these 76 flights, 13 flights landed in the last 24 hours,” said an official.
The Indian embassy in Hungary asked Indian students, who are still in that country, to report to designated contact points for return to India.
“Important Announcement: Embassy of India begins its last leg of Operation Ganga flights today. All those students staying in their OWN accommodation ( other than arranged by Embassy) are requested to reach @Hungariacitycentre, Rakoczi Ut 90, Budapest between 10 am-12 pm,” it said.
Separately, the Indian embassy in Ukraine asked all Indians who are still stuck there to fill up an online form.
“All Indian nationals who still remain in Ukraine are requested to fill up the details contained in the attached Google Form on an URGENT BASIS. Be Safe Be Strong,” it tweeted.
The details sought are name, email, phone number, address of current stay, passport details, gender and age.
The embassy also asked for indicating the current location of the Indians still stranded in Ukraine.
A list of locations has been provided in the form and an option has been given to select the location from the list.
The locations mentioned in the online form are Cherkassy, Chernihiv, Chernivtsi, Dnipropetrovsk, Donetsk, Ivano-Frankivsk, Kharkiv, Kherson, Khmelnytsky, Kirovograd, Kyiv, Luhansk, Lviv, Mykolaiv and Odessa.
The list also included Poltava, Rivne, Sumy, Ternopil, Vinnytsya, Volyn, Zakarpattya, Zaporozhzhya and Zhytomyr.
The embassy also said that a group of 44 Indians who began their trip from Pisochyn are on their way to the Polish border from Lviv.
“Other group of 150+ have made their way to the Romanian border.
Our efforts are ongoing. Be Safe Be Strong,” it tweeted.
Officials said over 21,000 Indians came out of Ukraine since the issuance of advisory weeks before the conflict began.
Out of them, 19,920 Indians have already reached India.
Six tranches of humanitarian aid were sent earlier for Ukraine and on Sunday, one more tranche weighing six tonnes was dispatched by IAF flight to Poland.
The MEA control room, as well as the control centres operated by the Indian embassies, continue to operate on a 24×7 basis, the officials said.
The MEA control room has attended to 12,435 calls and 9026 emails till Sunday afternoon, according to the officials.
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