17,000 Indians leave Ukraine, ‘Conflict in east zone matter of concern’, says MEA

New Delhi: The conflict in eastern Ukraine between the Russian and Ukraine military remains a matter of concern, the government has said.

MEA spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said the advisory issued by the Indian embassy in Ukraine asking citizens to leave Kharkiv is based on information from Russia.”We would urge all our nationals to leave Kharkiv immediately to safe zones,” he said. Bagchi added there had been some encouraging reports that some students could board trains out of Kharkiv.

” … We have been in communication with the Russian side regarding the safe passage of our nationals from Kharkiv and other cities,” he said.

The MEA also stated that an estimated 17,000 Indian nationals have left Ukraine borders since advisories were issued in the last week of January. Before the start of the conflict, there were about 20,000 Indians, including students, in various parts of Ukraine.

Between Tuesday and Wednesday evening, at least six flights have landed in India, taking the total number of flights landed in India to 15. The total number of Indians who have returned on these flights would be 3,352, MEA spokesperson Bagchi said.

“As many as 15 flights are scheduled over the next 24 hours (Wednesday to Thursday evening). Some of these are already actually en route,” he remarked. 

He further said the government is exploring options to reach eastern Ukraine to assist the evacuation of citizens who are stuck there. “We are seeing if our teams can reach there. It’s not easy because the route is not open all the time,” added Bagchi. 

He said a mechanism for issuing emergency certificates to those who lost their Indian passports has been instituted on the administrative front.  “I think this will also help many Indian students,” said Bagchi. 

Bagchi said the Indian embassy in Kyiv was asked to set up a temporary office in Lviv to facilitate border crossings by Indian nationals, adding a large segment of the team in the mission is now at Lviv.

Separately, Chandan Jindal, an Indian national in Ukraine’s Vinnytsia, lost his life due to natural causes. His family members are also in Ukraine, Bagchi said. 

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