Thousands of Indian Students Trapped in Ukraine : Appealing the Government to Evacuate them
Updated: Mar 4
The Russian military campaign in Ukraine has left hundreds of thousands people in the country homeless as they shelter in safe spaces, trying to safeguard themselves from bombing. The situation is unwarranted for all citizens in the warzone, but foreign nationals have to deal with both finding bunkers to stay safe while also trying to keep in touch with families at home. An estimated 15,000 Indian nationals find themselves stuck amidst the war in the country, many of whom are students that have been sheltering themselves in their college basements for the past four days.Ukrainian authorities have also imposed martial law across the country and the capital Kiev remains closed to commercial air traffic, leaving thousands of foreign nationals stranded. On Tuesday, one Indian student was killed in the eastern city of Kharkiv as a result of heavy shelling by Russian forces. The 21-year-old medical student was killed in the town of Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second largest city that is under attack from Russian forces. “With profound sorrow we confirm that an Indian student lost his life in shelling in Kharkiv this morning. The Ministry is in touch with his family,” the foreign ministry said Tuesday. The ministry said the Indian foreign secretary is calling in ambassadors of Russia and Ukraine to “reiterate our demand for urgent safe passage for Indian nationals who are still in Kharkiv and cities in other conflict zones." According to 2020 data from the Government of India, there are around 18,000 Indian students studying in various universities in Ukraine. The Ukrainian government estimates that in 2019, there were 80,000 international students in the country; almost a quarter of them — 22.9 percent — are Indians. Since the bombardment the students are constantly on alert and ready to maneuver in case of an emergency. Several cities in Ukraine are experiencing night curfews and everyone have been informed about bunkers/bomb shelters in case of an extreme situation. The Indian Embassy on Thursday advised all Indian nationals in Ukraine to stay at home and to find the nearest bomb shelters if they hear air sirens. In advisories, it warned: “Please be aware of your surroundings, be safe, do not leave your homes unless necessary and carry documents with you at all times.” Among all this anxiety a, UNITED SIKHS emergency relief teams are working round the clock to respond to the emerging needs on the grounds. They are constantly coordinating with refugee camps and are monitoring the situation closely for the required aid for students and residents in Ukraine escaping war conditions on the ground. They also have opened communication channels with governments of neighboring nations including Poland, Slovakia, Romania and Hungary. The group already has taken steps to secure safe passage for one group of students coming from Ukraine to get refugee status in Poland. A virtual desk has been set up to immediately respond to the needs of students and residents from Punjab and South Asia displaced by this tragic war. With around 20,000 Indians stuck in Ukraine, a series of high-level meetings were also held to put in place contingency plans to assist the Indians. PM Narendra Modi also chaired a meeting of the cabinet committee on security.However, students believe that the government has not taken timely measures. None of this is to argue that the Modi government doesn’t care about Indian students stuck in Ukraine – it surely does — but it has lost precious hours by not communicating the message, again and again and again, to the students that even though there was an advisory in January to get out early, the Indian embassy in Kyiv was their passport to safety.