As the government rushes to evacuate Indian citizens from Ukraine via neighbouring countries like Romania, Belarus, Hungary and Poland, one of the primary areas of concern remains the eastern cities of Sumi and Kharkiv. Extreme shelling in the region has made it impossible for Indians to seek help and remain safe in a war-ravaged zone. As the evacuation process continues in the west, students are sending SOS calls from Sumy and Kharkiv.
In the SOS messages that now taking over the Internet, students from Sumy and Kharkiv have said that getting to the border is difficult for them. The electricity and water supply has been stopped, no transportation is available, the shops have run out of supply and the banks have run out of cash. To save themselves, they have to seek refuge in basements or bunkers, which smell and have sewage leakages.
Considering the plight of these students and constant appeals by the Indian government, Russia announced a safe passage today, along with the arrangement of 130 Russian buses to facilitate the movement of Indian students from these areas to Belgorod, one of the closest Russian cities. From Belgorod, these students will be transported to India by air. Earlier, an advisory issued by the Indian embassy advised the students to move to border areas like Pisochyn, Babai and Bezlyudivka.
However, it is important to come up with an action plan and see what needs to be done next. Some of the steps that can be undertaken include communicate locations to board the Russian buses, along with timings of their departure. 2 helplines need to be set up dedicated to Sumy and Kharkiv evacuation. The first hotline should be for FAQs, travel timings and bus locations and the second hotline should be for any emergencies during travel to the border. A coordination cell should also be set up with the Russians for safe passage. The check posts should be equipped with adequate means, medicines and rest zones. Along with this, a cell should also be set up to coordinate travel from Belgorod to India.