Government reassures students stranded in Sumy, Ukraine

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

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

India’s government said on Saturday it was “deeply concerned” about students trapped in Sumy, on the front lines of Ukraine’s war with Russia, and assured them it was in talks with the two countries to a safe corridor for them after threatening to march towards the border carrying the Indian flag despite heavy shelling of the city.

“We are deeply concerned about Indian students in Sumy, Ukraine. We have been strongly lobbying the Russian and Ukrainian governments through multiple channels for an immediate ceasefire to create a safe corridor for our students,” he said. tweeted Ministry of External Affairs spokesman Arindam Bagchi.

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

In a separate statement, the Indian Embassy in Kyiv said “our embassy will spare no effort to ensure a safe evacuation” and asked stranded students to have “a little more patience”.

Locked up in bunkers

Nearly 600-700 Sumy State University students have spent the past 10 days locked in bunkers at their hostel as the city, which sits on the Ukraine-Russia border, continues to be witnessed shelling, artillery shelling as well as airstrikes, according to eyewitnesses.

“This is the 10th day of war. Russia has announced a ceasefire to allow a humanitarian corridor to two cities, including Mariupol, 600 km from Sumy. We are afraid and we cannot wait any longer. We risk our life, we are moving towards the border,” hundreds of students said in a video carrying Indian flags. They said they would head towards the Russian border as there was no sign of a ceasefire in their city, which continued to be the scene of bombings and street fighting.

“If anything happens to us, all the responsibility will lie with the government and the Indian embassy,” the students said.

Local ceasefire

Although Russia agreed to a local ceasefire in Mariupol, a city in southern Ukraine, to allow a humanitarian corridor for civilians, Ukrainian authorities accused it of breaking the ceasefire by continuing to bombard the city and delaying the evacuation. The Russian military has continued to tighten its grip on southern Ukraine by closing in on the vital port city of Odessa in its attempt to cut off the Ukrainian government from the sea. Russian President Vladimir Putin has warned Ukraine that it could lose statehood as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has called for a NATO no-fly zone over his country.

Meanwhile, four days after issuing a notice to students in Kharkiv to leave the city and travel to towns in 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 hundred had started heading for the border in the past two days in buses paid for by them. The government said two more buses would arrive on Saturday and the students said they would all have to be evacuated by the end of the day.

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