At least 1,000 Indian students still stranded in eastern Ukraine as evacuation runs into logistical problems
The students have no leads on how to get out of the country and have issued an appeal to the Indian government and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, saying, "We'll all be killed"
At least 1,000 Indians - 700 in Sumy and 300 in Kharkiv - are still stranded in conflict zones in eastern Ukraine, the government confirmed, with arranging buses to evacuate them from the war-hit country proving to be the biggest challenge.
India's foreign ministry Saturday said that it has "strongly pressed" the Russian and Ukrainian governments through multiple channels for an immediate ceasefire to create a safe corridor for its students stranded amidst the raging war in Ukraine. It also claimed that the ministry and Indian embassies are in touch with the students, who have been posting desperate and emotional pleas to be evacuated from the conflict-stricken region, even as many students complained of indifference and callous behaviour on the part of many embassy officials.
Indian students stranded in northeast Ukraine's Sumy city shared videos saying they have decided to take a risky journey to the Russian border 50 km away. In what they claimed would be their "last video" from Sumy, they said the Indian government and its embassy in Ukraine would be responsible if anything happened to them. The students have, however, decided not to leave after they were contacted by the embassy, NDTV said.
In the video from the Sumy State University campus, a large group of students could be seen standing in the snow, packed and ready to leave. They were holding Indian flags.
"Since morning, we have been constantly listening to boarding, shelling and streetfights. We are afraid, we have waited a lot and we can't wait anymore. We are risking our lives and moving towards the border. If anything happens to us, all the responsibility will be of the government and the Indian embassy. If anything happens to anyone, Mission Ganga will be the biggest failure," one of the students said in the video.
"Please pray for us...This is our last video," another student pleaded.
In a video from one of the hostels, students were seen collecting snow to melt for water. They say about 800-900 Indian students have been confined in the hostels of the Medical Institute of Sumy State University for over a week and have nearly run out of food and water.
The students have no leads on how to get out of the country and have issued an appeal to the Indian government and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, saying, "We'll all be killed".
"Nothing has been done for us. We have seen some foreign students leave Sumy on their own, but they were shot. We have videos to show it," an Indian student said in one of the messages. Behind him, about a hundred students are seen standing, looking worried.
The Indian embassy last week warned of intense fighting in Kharkiv, Sumy and Kyiv. Reports say trains and buses have stopped running in Sumy, roads and bridges out of the city have been destroyed, and there is heavy street fighting.
Russia has informed the UN Security Council that Russian buses are ready at crossing points to go to the eastern Ukrainian cities of Kharkiv and Sumy to evacuate Indian students and other foreign nationals who are stranded there. Russia's Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia alleged that Ukraine nationalists were keeping over 3,700 Indian citizens - as well as from other Asian and African countries - "by force" in Kharkiv and Sumy cities of eastern Ukraine, but the Indian government maintained it had no such reports from either its embassy in Kyiv or the students.