India raises concerns as students stuck in Ukraine’s Sumy say they are facing water, food shortages
Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Arindam Bagchi sought ceasefire to evacuate citizens stranded in conflict zones of the country.
The Ministry of External Affairs on Friday expressed concern about the Indian students stranded in Ukraine’s north-western city of Sumy, reported ANI. Ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said that over 700 students were stuck in the city.
The Indian government has not been able to evacuate the students who are facing several difficulties living there amid the Russian invasion that began on February 24.
One of the stranded students of the Suma State University, Anuj Kumar, told Scroll.in that they were facing food and water shortages. The Indian Embassy in Ukraine has assured them help. But the students said that it has been been nine days since the embassy promised to evacuate them safely.
At a press briefing on Friday, Bagchi said that it was difficult to evacuate the students as the area is a conflict zone.
“We are with you [the students],” he said. “We are trying to find a solution to get them out of there. They are probably better where they are than probably walking around in violence.”
The spokesperson said that they were focused on evacuating citizens from Sumy as well as northeastern city of Kharkiv, where around 300 students are stranded, reported NDTV.
“We are urging both sides [Russia and Ukraine] to find ways so that we can take out our citizens,” Bagchi said. “A local ceasefire would help.”
The foreign ministry spokesperson said India was yet to see the implementation of the decision by Russia and Ukraine to create safe corridors for the exit of the civilians.
In Sumy, Kumar told Scroll.in that the water supply was cut off on Thursday night after a station was bombed by fighter planes. In a video shared by Kumar, students could be seen filling their water bottles with snow to melt and use it for drinking.
The students have also been forced to drink water stocked in buckets. They said that the railway network has been damaged by shelling and the roads are not safe as the Russia armed forces have set up multiple check points.
Meanwhile, a group of students also sought help from Prime Minister Narendra Modi for evacuation, reported NDTV.
“Nothing has been done for us,” a student said. “We have seen some foreign students leave Sumy on their own, but they were shot. We have videos to show it.”
The student cited reports saying that buses have been waiting on the Russian border, which was about 50 kms from their location.
“If we walk from the hostel, there are snipers in all four directions, everywhere,” he said. “We fear airstrikes. Bombardment is happening every 20 minutes.”
The student said that many have not had water since Thursday night.
“We request Narendra Modi ji, please take us out of here, or else we will be killed,” he added. “If we walk out from here on our own, we will be killed. We request the government of India, please help us.”
The students also told The Hindu that the were running out of food as the super markets are closed. They said the grocery shops were only accepting cash but the automated teller machines, or ATMs, do not have any money.
“Our contactor is providing one meal a day,” Abdul Rawoof, one of the stuck students, told The Hindu. “We are arranging another meal using bread, nutella, eggs.”
The students have been uploading videos on social media describing their ordeal and seeking urgent help.