India on Monday told the United Nations Security Council it was concerned that a humanitarian corridor was not created for evacuating Indian students stranded in Ukraine’s northeastern city of Sumy, despite New Delhi urging both Kyiv and Moscow to allow such a passage.
India has been evacuating its citizens, mostly students, through countries neighbouring Ukraine after Kyiv shut its airspace for civilian aircraft following the Russian offensive. However, the government has been unable to evacuate several students in Sumy due to shelling.
About 600 Indian students are still stuck in the city as of Monday, according to Minister of State for External Affairs V Muraleedharan.
At the Security Council meeting, India’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations TS Tirumurti noted that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had spoken to Russia and Ukraine on Monday and reiterated the demand for a ceasefire and need for both countries to engage in a dialogue.
“We have also reiterated our urgent demand for safe and uninterrupted passage for all innocent civilians, including Indian nationals, remaining in Ukraine,” he said. “We are deeply concerned that despite our repeated urgings to both sides, the safe corridor for our students stranded in Sumi did not materialise.”
Tirumutri also expressed his gratitude to Ukraine and its neighbouring countries for helping in the evacuation of over 20,000 Indian citizens.
He also welcomed United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres’s “flash appeal” for Ukraine and his regional refugee response plan.
On March 1, Guterres had issued an appeal for raising $1.1 billion, or nearly Rs 8,464 crore, in funds to assist 6 million Ukrainians in the European country and also $551 million, Rs 4,239 crore, to help those who have crossed over into neighbouring countries, reported The Hindu.
“We hope the international community will respond positively to the humanitarian needs,” Tirumurti said. “On its part, India has sent seven tranches of humanitarian supply to Ukraine and its neighbouring countries. These include medicines, medical equipment, tents, protective eye gear, water storage tanks, solar lamps, amongst other relief material.”
He said that India was in the process of identifying other requirements and sending more supplies.
“Allow me to underscore that it is important that humanitarian action is always guided by the principles of humanitarian assistance, humanity, neutrality, impartiality and independence,” Tirumurti added. “These should not be politicised.”
The evacuation from Sumy was delayed after Ukraine on Monday dismissed Moscow’s offer to create humanitarian corridors from several besieged cities as it emerged that exit routes would lead refugees into Russia or Belarus.
Ukraine Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk had called the Russian proposal “immoral” and said Moscow was only aiming for good optics.