India to Provide Humanitarian Assistance to Ukraine: MEA

MEA spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said that the country had managed to "accelerate efforts" to evacuate Indian nationals from Ukraine though the ground situation remained "complex and fluid".

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New Delhi: India on Monday said it would provide humanitarian assistance – including medicines – to Ukraine.

According to reports, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said, “India will provide humanitarian assistance to Ukraine including medicines. However, no more details are yet available.”

He also said that the country had managed to “accelerate efforts” to evacuate Indian nationals from Ukraine though the ground situation remained “complex and fluid”, and noted that around 8,000 Indians left that country since the first advisory was issued earlier this month, before the conflict began.

Bagchi said at a media briefing that 1,396 Indians were brought back home in six flights in the last few days as part of the evacuation mission.

The Indian embassy in Kyiv had started issuing travel advisories requesting Indians to consider leaving that country after tensions between Ukraine and Russia began to increase. Russia had launched the attack on the eastern European country four days back.

A large number of Indians left the country following the advisories.

Bagchi said the government has decided to send four union ministers as the prime minister’s envoys to Poland, Romania, Hungary, Slovakia and Moldova to oversee the evacuation of Indian nationals through Ukrainian land border crossings with these countries.

He said Union minister Hardeep Puri will go to Hungary, Jyotiraditya Scindia will oversee the evacuation process in Romania and Moldova, Kiren Rijiju will travel to Slovakia and Gen (Retd) V.K. Singh is leaving for Poland.

Bagchi said the situation on the ground in terms of evacuation continues to be “complex and fluid” but India has managed to accelerate the evacuation process in the last 24 hours.

“You have seen media reports. Some of them are concerning. Nevertheless, we have been able to accelerate our evacuation process clearly over the last 24 hours,” he said.

The MEA spokesperson also urged the Indian students not to panic.

“I do not think the students should panic. They should try to go to the western parts of Ukraine while contacting our control rooms and sharing their locations so that we can get them registered for their exit,” he said.

Bagchi said India’s focus has been on evacuating its nationals through the land border crossings, noting that there has been some improvement in the movement of people into Poland through the situation on the Polish border is still difficult.

He said there has been progress in the evacuation of people along the border in Romania and that exiting through the Hungarian transit point is also picking up momentum.

The spokesperson said India has managed to open a new route through Moldova and an MEA team has already reached that country this morning to assist the evacuation of Indians from Moldova to Romania.

“This new route should help Indians in Southern Ukraine. We are looking at how we can move them to Moldova and then to Romania,” he said.

Bagchi said India is encouraging its citizens to move to western Ukraine and that the MEA’s understanding is that some students in the cities in eastern Ukraine are boarding trains to the western side.

“We want to emphasise that people should not reach the border directly. If they do they will face a long waiting time to cross as you have seen on the Polish border. You have seen it on the Romanian border too. Please do reach in the western part of the country, but please seek shelter in nearby towns,” he said.

Bagchi said flights are not a constraint.

“We will add more flights as needed. We are continually augmenting the number of MEA teams in border crossing points. We are also augmenting a number of officials in the nearby countries,” he said.

India on Friday managed to set up camp offices in Lviv and Chernivtsi towns in western Ukraine to facilitate the transit of Indians to Hungary, Romania and Poland.

India also positioned teams of officials at Zahony border post in Hungary, Krakowiec as well as Shehyni-Medyka land border points in Poland, Vysne Nemecke in the Slovak Republic and Suceava transit point in Romania to coordinate the exit of Indian nationals from Ukraine.

It is using the land routes to evacuate its citizens as Ukraine has closed its airspace for civilian aircraft following the Russian attack.

(With PTI inputs)