New Delhi: The evacuation of around 700 Indian students stranded in battle-hit Ukraine’s Sumy was put on hold again on Monday as Ukraine vetoed the Russian idea of a humanitarian corridor from three of its cities to Russia and Belarus.
The “corridors” were to be opened from the Ukrainian capital Kyiv, Mariupol, and the eastern cities of Kharkiv and Sumy.
According to the students, they have been waiting to be an evacuated since Saturday.
The Indian foreign ministry, however, said the main challenges were the ongoing shelling, violence, and the lack of transportation.
An Indian team from the embassy has been on stand-by at Poltava – a nearly three-hour drive from Sumy – to coordinate the safe passage of the students.
On Saturday, unable to cope with the drastic cold weather, depleting food and water supplies, the students shared videos saying they have decided to take the risky journey to the Russian border 50 km away.
But the government had contacted them and asked them to “avoid unnecessary risks”.
Under the Russian evacuation plan, the corridor from Kyiv would lead to Belarus, while civilians from Kharkiv would be permitted to go only to Russia, the Russian state-owned RIA News agency said. Russia also said it would begin airlifts to take Ukrainians from Kyiv to Russia.
A spokesperson for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, however, called the move “completely immoral” and said Russia was trying to “use people’s suffering to create a television picture”.
“They are citizens of Ukraine, they should have the right to evacuate to the territory of Ukraine,” news agency Reuters quoted the spokesperson as saying. “This is one of the problems that is causing the humanitarian corridors to break down. They seem to agree to them, but they themselves want to supply humanitarian aid for a picture on TV, and want the corridors to lead in their direction.”
India Blooms News Service