New Delhi:
 As many as 22,500 nationals have returned to India from Ukraine since February and around 40-50 Indians are still in the war-torn country, of which only a few are willing to return, Rajya Sabha was informed on Thursday.

“Overall, 22,500 nationals have returned to India since February 2022. Around 40-50 Indian nationals are still in Ukraine, of which only a few are willing to return to India. Their return is being facilitated by the Embassy,” said Minister of State for External Affairs Meenakashi Lekhi in a written response to a question on the number of people evacuated from Ukraine.

The Ukrainian authorities had shut down the country’s airspace for civilian aircraft after the Russian attack on February 24.

To another question on the number of operations carried out to evacuate stranded Indians and other nationals during the last five years, she said during the global Covid pandemic, the government launched the Vande Bharat Mission to repatriate Indian nationals and to facilitate the travel of passengers between India and other parts of the world.

“Around 2.97 crore passengers (in-bound and out-bound) have been facilitated in the flights operated under the Vande Bharat Mission and Air Bubble Arrangements till date,” she said.

Under ‘Operation Devi Shakti’, a total of 669 people were evacuated from Afghanistan, including 448 Indian nationals, 206 Afghans (including Hindu Sikh minority community members) and 15 people of other nationalities (Nepal, Lebanon and Uganda) in seven flights between August 16 to 25, 2021 and the last flight on December 10, 2021, Lekhi said.

All Indian nationals who had sought repatriation to India were evacuated, she added.

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