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India undertook one of the most challenging evacuation exercises in Ukraine: EAM S Jaishankar

By Priyanka Verma 
Updated Date

New Delhi: External Affairs Minister Dr S Jaishankar on Tuesday, March 15, said that India undertook one of the most challenging evacuation exercises and brought 22,500 citizens back home safely. He said Indian community was dispersed across Ukraine, posing its own logistical challenges.

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“The exercise was undertaken at a time when military actions, incl airstrikes & shelling, were underway. It involved movement in a war-torn situation in a large country, at times over a 1000 kms & required exiting border checkpoints clogged by an estimated 26 lakh refugees,” Jaishankar added.

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Entire exercise involved a whole of government approach, with the Prime Minister himself chairing review meetings almost on a daily basis.

“At MEA, we monitored evacuation ops on a 24/7 basis. We got excellent support from all concerned ministries and organisations, including MoCA, Defence, NDRF, IAF, private airlines,” the minister said.

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“Despite the challenges posed by the serious ongoing conflict, we have ensured that about 22,500 citizens have returned home safely,” Jaishankar said.

Russia launched all out attack on Ukraine on February 24.

Jaishankar said more than half the Indian students were in universities in eastern Ukraine that borders Russia and has been epicentre of conflict so far. Students hail from 35 states/UTs of India with over 1000 students each from Kerala, UP, Haryana, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Bihar and Rajasthan.

In view of continued buildup of tensions in February, Indian Embassy issued an advisory on 15 February 2022, advising Indians in Ukraine whose stay isn’t essential to leave country temporarily. It also advised Indians not to travel to Ukraine or undertake non-essential movements within Ukraine, he said.

Further advisories were also given on 20th and 22nd February. Air bubble instructions then imposed were immediately lifted in consultation with Ukrainian side to increase number of direct flights. Around 4000 Indians departed from Ukraine by direct/indirect flights till 23rd February.

The government has so far succeeded in bringing back 22,500 stranded Indian citizens in more than 80 special evacuation flights since the conflict broke out between Russia and Ukraine on February 24.

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India has also helped rescue citizens of neigbouring Bangladesh and Nepal stuck in the conflict.

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