United Nations, Apr 11 (PTI) India said on Monday that it is exploring options to minimise the impact on its students’ education due to Ukraine’s ongoing military conflict with Russia, as it appreciated the relaxations undertaken by the Volodymyr Zelenskyy government for this academic year in respect of medical students.
The Indian government has launched “Operation Ganga,” which facilitated the safe return of more than 22,000 nationals, mostly students from various Ukrainian universities, during the ongoing conflict that had begun on February 24.
India’s Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador T S Tirumurti, addressing the UN Security Council meeting on Ukraine Monday, said that the impact of the conflict in Ukraine on education of children has been “severe” and has further aggravated pandemic-related challenges that children were already facing.
He noted that there are reports that more than 900 education facilities and schools have been either damaged or destroyed in Ukraine.
Tirumurti asserted that India is “exploring options to minimise the impact on our students’ education. We appreciate the relaxations made by the Ukrainian government for this academic year in respect of medical students.” “Let us also not forget that the situation has also affected foreign students, including Indian students. India facilitated safe return of 22,500 Indian nationals, most of them students studying in various universities in Ukraine,” Tirumurti said at the meeting convened by the United Kingdom, under its Presidency of the Security Council for the month of April to “discuss the impact of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on women and children.” In the first Indian casualty in the Ukraine war, a 21-year old fourth-year medical student at the Kharkiv National Medical University Naveen Shekarappa Gyanagoudar from Karnataka was killed in the shelling in Kharkiv in early March.
Tirumurti said that since the beginning of the Ukrainian conflict, India has stood for peace, dialogue and diplomacy. “We believe that no solution can be arrived at by shedding blood and at the cost of innocent lives.” He noted that women and children invariably suffer the most in any armed conflicts or military confrontation.
From reports coming out of Ukraine, women and children have been disproportionately impacted and form the bulk of the refugees and Internally Displaced Persons.
More than 4.4 million people have moved to neighbouring countries and another 7.1 million are displaced inside Ukraine.
While commending Ukraine’s neighbouring countries for welcoming refugees from the war-ravaged country and especially treating women and children with compassion and dignity, Tirumurti told the Council that as a country which has welcomed refugees over centuries, India knows the importance and value of treating them equally and with dignity and catering to their needs and requirements.
“In this context, we need to keep the gender perspective in mind and act with sensitivity. We call for a victim-centred approach to preventing and responding to sexual violence in armed conflicts,” he said.
“Even as we deal with the influx of refugees, we continue to remain deeply concerned at the worsening situation in Ukraine and reiterate our call for immediate end to hostilities. When innocent human lives are at stake, diplomacy must prevail as the only viable option,” he said.
Tirumurti asserted that it is in the nations’ “collective interest” to work constructively, both inside the United Nations and outside, towards seeking an early resolution to the conflict.
He reiterated the importance of UN Guiding Principles of Humanitarian Assistance, saying humanitarian action must always be guided by the principles of humanitarian assistance, i.e., humanity, neutrality, impartiality, and independence.
“These measures should not be politicised,” he insisted.
India continues to emphasise to the Member States that the global order is anchored on international law, the UN Charter and respect for the territorial integrity and sovereignty of states, he said.
UNICEF Emergency Programmes Director Manuel Fontaine, in remarks at the Security Council briefing on the humanitarian situation in Ukraine, said that inside Ukraine, children, families, and communities are under attack.
Of the 3.2 million children estimated to have remained in their homes, nearly half may be at risk of not having enough food.
Attacks on water system infrastructure and power outages have left an estimated 1.4 million people without access to water in Ukraine. Another 4.6 million people have only limited access, Fontaine said.
Fontaine added that the situation is even worse in cities like Mariupol and Kherson, where children and their families have now gone weeks without running water and sanitation services, a regular supply of food, and medical care.
“They are sheltering in their homes and underground, waiting for the bombs and violence to stop.” Fontaine said that as of April 10, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights has verified 142 children killed and 229 children injured.
“We know these numbers are likely much higher — and many of them were caused by crossfire or the use of explosive weapons in populated areas.” PTI YAS VM AKJ VM
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