Government reassures students stranded in Ukraine’s Sumy

Students had threatened to start marching towards Russian border amidst shelling after 10 days in bunkers

Updated - March 06, 2022 08:28 am IST

Published - March 05, 2022 09:27 pm IST - NEW DELHI

Indian students of the Sumy State University in Ukraine protest after staying inside bunkers for days. Photo: Special Arrangement

Indian students of the Sumy State University in Ukraine protest after staying inside bunkers for days. Photo: Special Arrangement

The Government of India on Saturday said it was "deeply concerned" about the students trapped in Sumy, on the frontline of Ukraine's war with Russia, and assured them that it was in talks with the two countries for a safe corridor for them after they threatened to march towards the border carrying the Indian Flag despite heavy bombing of the city.

"We are deeply concerned about Indian students in Sumy, Ukraine. Have strongly pressed Russian and Ukrainian governments through multiple channels for an immediate ceasefire to create a safe corridor for our students," Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Arindam Bagchi tweeted.

He urged the students to "stay inside shelters and avoid unnecessary risks".

In a separate statement, the Indian Embassy in Kyiv said, “our Embassy will leave no stone unturned to ensure safe evacuation” and requested the stranded students to have “some more patience”.

Holed up in bunkers

Nearly 600-700 students at the Sumy State University have spent the last 10 days holed up in bunkers at their hostel, as the city, located on Ukraine's border with Russia, continues to witness bombing, shelling of artillery as well air strikes, according to eyewitnesses.

Watch | Indian Students from Sumy State University, Ukraine

"It is the 10th day of war. Russia has announced ceasefire to allow humanitarian corridor to two cities, one of them is Mariupol, which is 600 km away from Sumy. We are afraid and we can't wait anymore. We are risking our life, we are moving towards border," hundreds of students said in a video carrying Indian flags. They stated that they would move towards the Russian border as there was no indication of a ceasefire in their city, which continued to witness bombings and street fight.

" If anything happens to us, all the responsibility will be of the government and the Indian embassy," the students stated.

Local ceasefire

Though Russia agreed to a local ceasefire in Mariupol, a city in southern Ukraine, to enable a humanitarian corridor for civilians, the Ukrainian authorities accused it of breaking the ceasefire by continuing to shell the city and delaying evacuation. The Russian military continued to strengthen its grip over southern Ukraine by moving closer to the vital port city of Odessa in its bid to cut off the Ukrainian government from the sea. Russian President Vladimir Putin warned Ukraine it could lose its Statehood as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy called for a NATO no fly zone over his country.

Meanwhile, four days after issuing an advisory to students in Kharkiv to leave the city and reach towns on its suburbs, the government sent three buses to take them to Ukraine's western borders. Of the nearly 1,200 students who fled to Pesochyn earlier this week, several hundreds had started traveling towards the border in the past two days on buses paid for by them. The government said that two more buses would arrive on Saturday and students said all of them were likely to be evacuated by the end of the day.

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