Thousands of Indians flown out of Ukraine as part of Operation Ganga: Shringla
Foreign Minister Harsh Vardhan Shringla said on Sunday that the Indian government had launched a multi-pronged evacuation plan titled “Operation Ganga” to evacuate Indian citizens stranded in Ukraine, adding that thousands of Indian citizens had been expelled from the conflict-torn country. .
As intense fighting is ongoing in Kharkiv, Sumy and Kyiv, Shringla held a special briefing on “Operation Ganga” and said, “As part of Operation Ganga, thousands of our citizens have been expelled from Romania and Hungary and another thousand were evacuated from the Ukraine by land.Thousands of our students have crossed from Ukraine to areas conducive to their evacuation by air to India.
The Indian government has launched a multi-pronged evacuation plan titled “Operation Ganga” to evacuate Indian citizens stranded in Ukraine.
The Government of India bears the cost of evacuation in view of the prevailing emergency situation. The Indian Embassy in Kyiv as well as the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) in New Delhi issued a number of advisories before the situation developed, asking Indian citizens to leave Ukraine.
“4,000 of our nationals departed before the conflict in accordance with these notices. We estimated at that time that 15,000 of our citizens remained in Ukraine when Operation Ganga began. Given that the airspace in Ukraine was closed after the start of the conflict, we have identified land evacuation options through four neighboring countries – Hungary, Poland, Romania and Slovakia,” the Foreign Minister said.
Specific border crossing points were identified with each of these countries and the MEA had deployed teams of Russian-speaking officers to travel there and assist in the evacuation process.
“We had also asked our embassy in Kyiv and they set up a 24/7 control room and we did the same in our ministry in Delhi,” Shringla said.
He also said flights for these evacuees are being arranged and details will be shared shortly, adding “I’ll show you the flights we have planned over the next 24-48 hours.”
Shringla further stated that the border crossing to Hungary and Romania is working, however, the exit point to Poland has been clogged as hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian and foreign nationals are trying to leave the country from this point. .
“It is a problematic area. We have tried to calibrate the evacuation plans taking into account the experience on the ground, some border crossings are more efficient, some are obviously problematic. Those near the borders with Hungary , Romania and the Slovak Republic are being guided to the respective border points in phases,” Shringla said.
Speaking about the difficulty regarding Russia’s ongoing military operation in Ukraine, he said: “Our embassy in Kyiv is operational, obviously the austerities in the region make regular activity difficult. We are aware of the number of citizens Indians, especially students, who continue to be found in cities in eastern Ukraine and southeastern Ukraine. Unfortunately, these areas continue to be conflict zones and it is generally deemed unsafe for people to move freely. We will try to find suitable evacuation arrangements for them. When possible, our embassy in Kyiv will try to maintain contact, we have also tried to maintain contact on a daily basis. We continue to give them advice as they go along.
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