Evacuating Indian students stranded in Ukraine amid raging conflict is a huge challenge

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The Russian invasion of Ukraine has a direct impact on India due to the large population of Indians living in Ukraine, mostly young students. Ukraine is a popular destination for students wishing to pursue an MBBS degree. Most stranded students are from South India.

Foreign Minister Harsh Vardhan Shringla said on Thursday that about 4,000 out of 20,000 Indian nationals have already left Ukraine in recent days. Around 16,000 Indian students are still stuck in the war zone as the Russian invasion continues.

Here is a breakdown by state of current Indian student records in Ukraine, although actual numbers may vary.

Assam: 100 students

Andhra Pradesh and Telangana: 3,000 students

Chhattisgarh: 70 students

Gujarat: 2,500 students

Haryana and Punjab: 2,200 students

Himachal Pradesh: 200 students

Jharkhand: 6 people

Karnataka: 346 people including 91 students

Kerala: 2,000 students

Madhya Pradesh: 46 students

Maharashtra: 1,200 students

Meghalaya: 10 students

Odisha: 1,500 students

Rajasthan: 900 students

Sikkim: 20 students

Tamil Nadu: 5,000 students

Tripura: 50 students

Uttarakhand: 85 people

While Ukraine closed its airspace to civilian aircraft following the Russian attack, India plans to evacuate its Ukrainian nationals by land.

“Neighboring countries have been requested to send their officers to the border areas to facilitate the entry of Indian nationals. We have requested some officers to go to the border areas to set up makeshift facilitation centers,” said said the Minister of Foreign Affairs.

A group of about 40 Indian medical students from Daynlo Halytsky Medical University in Lviv marched towards the Ukraine-Poland border on Friday in freezing temperatures. They had to walk on foot because they were dropped off almost 8 km from the border post by the college bus.

The Indian Embassy in Ukraine tweeted on Friday: “Today afternoon more than 470 students will leave Ukraine and enter Romania through the Porubne-Siret border. We are moving Indians on the border to neighboring countries for further evacuation. Efforts are underway to relocate Indians from the hinterland.”

India has managed to set up offices in Lviv and Chernivtsi camps in western Ukraine to facilitate the transit of Indians to Hungary, Romania and Poland, official sources said. . The real difficulty lies in the evacuation of the Indians stuck in the hinterland and the east of Ukraine, on the border with Russia.

Two medical students, from the Vizianagaram district of Andhra Pradesh, who are hiding in a bunker near the Kharkiv National Medical University in eastern Ukraine, sent videos of bombings to the Russian bombs and their situation in the bunkers to their family members. Mylapalli Yamuna from Chepala Kancheru village and S Jithendra from Budarayavalasa village study at Kharkiv National Medical University.

Speaking to a newspaper, Mylapalli Yamuna, a fifth-year medical student, said, “I hid in a bunker for more than 24 hours. There is no supply of food, water and other basic necessities. The majority of students stranded here had a horrible time in underground bunkers. We are also facing an intense cold situation with a temperature of minus one degree Celsius. I continuously hear explosive sounds from outside. I don’t understand what’s going on outside. I call on the Indian government to evacuate us as soon as possible”.

Indian students in eastern Ukraine, bearing the brunt of the Russian attack, have spent the past 24 hours in bunkers listening to heavy shelling and gunfire, while their counterparts in western Ukraine see a ray of hope as land evacuation routes open on Saturday. .

The Indian government said teams of Indian Foreign Ministry officials have been dispatched to Ukraine’s borders with Hungary, Poland, Slovakia and Romania to help fleeing Indian nationals.

But students at the National Medical University in Kharkiv, eastern Ukraine, say they have no way to travel more than 1,000 kilometers to western borders, to enter neighboring countries. The evacuation of these students from eastern Ukraine represents a real challenge for the Indian government.

(V Venkateswara Rao is an alumnus of IIM, Ahmedabad and a retired corporate professional. Opinions are personal)

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