London, Feb 28 (PTI) Indian students in the UK have mobilised their networks across Europe to facilitate the evacuation of fellow students stranded in Ukraine amid the ongoing conflict with Russia.
Thousands have been attempting to cross the border into neighbouring regions of Poland, Slovakia and Romania to be flown out on one of the Operation Ganga rescue flights, launched by the government to evacuate Indians from the conflict zone.
The National Indian Students and Alumni Union (NISAU) UK on Monday confirmed a latest batch of 40 students successfully crossing over into Romania, to be flown back to Delhi soon. However, the student group estimates over 18,000 students remain stranded in the region as their long-distance rescue efforts continue.
“We have 24/7 helplines where we are non-stop coordinating with impacted students and advising them with the government instructions and advisories,” said Sanam Arora, NISAU UK chair and UK advisor to the Rescuing Every Distressed Indian Overseas (REDIO), launched by minister of state for external affairs Meenakshi Lekhi.
“Students are saying that they are unable to reach Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) officials on the ground for coordination; our team is helping by ensuring the right information reaches students in a timely manner,” she said.
With the use of social media groups on WhatsApp and Telegram, NISAU UK has been active since the conflict broke out last week to ensure the MEA advisories are filtered through to students desperate to evacuate.
“Students are now telling us that they are starting to run out of food, so we will be looking at how we can support on-ground efforts in getting food over to them,” added Arora.
More than 4,000 stranded students have reached out to the group of student volunteers in the UK for help so far, including their worried family members in India.
“The efforts of our volunteers are helping the MEA coordinate its efforts as otherwise there is no record of which students are where,” NISAU UK said.
Reports from Poland have highlighted concerns for the safety of many of the Indian students who have undertaken the tough journey to escape the violence in Ukrainian cities towards the Polish border.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi chaired a high level meeting in New Delhi on Monday to review the efforts under Operation Ganga to bring back Indians stranded in Ukraine.
“PM said that the entire government machinery is working round the clock to ensure that all Indians there are safe & secure,” the MEA spokesperson said on Twitter.
Meanwhile, the latest advisory from the Indian Embassy in Kyiv advises stranded Indians to make their way to the railway station after the weekend curfew was lifted in the Ukrainian capital. It calls for Indians to remain “calm, peaceful and united” and carry sufficient cash, ready to eat meals and warm clothes.
“Ukrainians both civilians and authorities have been remarkably supportive in facilitating evacuation efforts of Indian citizens, especially considering these critical and dangerous times,” it notes.
The Indian Embassy in Romania warned students against fraudulent money making attempts for a transfer from the Romanian border to the capital Bucharest.
“Pl. note that all services provided by the Embassy are free, including transport to Bucharest. Please do not pay money to anyone,” the embassy tweeted. PTI AK RUP RUP
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