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India’s evacuation programme most active among all nations, govt. sources say

By PTI Updated: Mar 01, 2022 11:24 am
Mumbai: Indian nationals, evacuated from crisis-hit Ukraine, upon their arrival at the airport in Mumbai, Tuesday, March 1, 2022. The seventh Operation Ganga flight carrying 182 Indian nationals stranded in Ukraine landed at the Mumbai airport from Romania’s Bucharest. (PTI Photo/Kunal Patil)

New Delhi, March 1 (PTI): The central government on Tuesday compared its response to help Indian citizens in war-hit Ukraine with those of several other countries, including the US, the UK and China, vis- -vis their nationals to assert that while its ‘Operation Ganga’ continues and embassy remains functional, others have been unable to work at such a scale with some even expressing inability to help their citizens.

There has been criticism from some quarters, especially opposition parties, over the alleged delay in India’s response to evacuate its citizens, mostly students, with some videos surfacing of Indian citizens facing harassment.

Government sources shared response of various countries to rebut criticism and assert that India has been prompt and relentless in helping its citizens.

The Chinese have postponed their evacuation plans while the Indian Operation Ganga is proceeding. Flights from India into neighbouring countries are continuing to bring back Indians. China has issued no travel advisories and no support mechanisms, while India has released contact numbers, advisories and support mechanisms. Chinese nationals are being attacked in Ukraine while the buses with the Indian flag are being given safe passage, a source said.

The US has stated that it will not be able to evacuate its citizens who are facing a long waiting time at the Ukrainian border for evacuation through other neighbouring countries, government sources said.

They cited official statements from the US and China besides Chinese media reports to back their claims.

At certain points, the US asked its citizens to even carry food and other items for two days at the Ukrainian border, and their waiting situation is similar to that of Indian citizens, they said, adding that both India and the US have issued similar advisories and have released several phone numbers for assistance.

Citing the response of other countries, government sources said Britain has clarified that it will not be able to provide increased support to its citizens stranded in Ukraine while, they added, India has increased support on a war footing.

The British embassy has relocated while the Indian embassy in Kyiv is still functioning. Britain has asked its nationals to follow the advice of Ukrainian authorities with no additional assistance, a source said.

He quoted a statement of the UK government which said, Russia’s military action in Ukraine will severely affect the British Government’s ability to provide consular assistance in Ukraine. British nationals should not expect increased consular support or help with evacuating in these circumstances.

Similarly, the German embassy has been closed at Kyiv while the Indian embassy is still functional. Germany has said that it is not in a position to evacuate its citizens, while India’s Operation Ganga, name of its evacuation exercise, is continuing, they said.

Over 80,000 international students study in Ukraine, according to data from Ukraine’s Ministry of Education and Science. The largest number come from India, followed by Morocco, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, and Nigeria. India’s evacuation programme, Operation Ganga, has been the most active among all nations which have their citizens in Ukraine, a source claimed.

Sources shared media reports of various other countries, including Egypt, Morocco and Nigeria, to back their assertions.

Some opposition parties, including the Congress, have been criticising the government for not evacuating Indian students in time from Ukraine and have called for urgent steps to evacuate them, after Russia attacked Ukraine. They have shared videos of Indian students in Ukraine highlighting their plight and making appeals to the Indian government to evacuate them soon.

Stepping up its evacuation efforts, India on Monday decided to send four Union ministers to countries in Ukraine’s neighbourhood as its special envoys to coordinate the evacuation of Indian students.

By PTI Updated: Mar 01, 2022 11:24:52 am