Evacuation of Indians in east Ukraine begins

  • Jayanth Jacob, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Jun 04, 2014 00:40 IST

Following its assessment that the situation is heading for the worse in eastern Ukraine, India has begun pulling out all of its nearly 1,000 nationals – mostly students – from there, in what is the biggest evacuation of citizens from overseas since the civil war in Libya in 2011.

The Indian embassy in Ukraine has made arrangements to bring these citizens from Lugansk—the eastern Ukraine city which is home to Lugansk State Medical University, University of Luhansk, and Volodymyr Dahl East Ukrainian National University – to the capital Kiev. Twenty-seven students reached there on Tuesday.

All those who are evacuated will be lodged at Hotel Ramada Encore in Kiev, and from there they can take flights home. The embassy will help with the plane bookings, and will take care of their stay and other local expenses in the Ukraine capital.

Indian nationals in Lugansk have been asked to travel on the trains in which seating has been reserved for them – Train No. 134 leaving Lugansk on June 3 at 1955 hrs and Train No. 126 on 4 June at 1350 hrs.

A large number of Indian students study in the state. 350 of them are from Kerala, 25 from Tamil Nadu, 150 from Andhra Pradesh and 60 from Punjab. Latest in the bloody unrest that has gripped eastern Ukraine, eight people were reported killed in an explosion at Lugansk’s regional administration building on Tuesday. Ukrainian forces have being fighting the rebel militia to seize control of key installations in the Lugansk region.

India last week issued an advisory, asking its nationals to leave Donetsk and Lugansk regions in eastern Ukraine which are witnessing frequent violent clashes between pro-Russian separatists and government forces. In the advisory, it also asked citizens in other parts of eastern and southern Ukraine to remain vigilant about their personal safety and security.

Though not matched in scale, this is the biggest evacuation of Indian nationals overseas since the Libyan civil war in 2011, which was code-named ‘operation homecoming’. India had 18,000 nationals working in Libya at the time, and both the navy and Air India took part in the massive evacuation of some 15,000 nationals, and the rest had decided to stay put.

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