“Brought 22,500 Indians Back To Country from Ukraine”: EAM S Jaishankar

New Delhi: India undertook the most challenging exercise of bringing back the stranded Indian Nationals from Ukraine, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said while addressing the Parliament on Tuesday.

Briefing the Rajya Sabha about the government’s evacuation initiative of Operation Ganga, Jaishankar said, “Tostilities between Russia and Ukraine placed over 20,000 Indian nationals, most of them students, in the Eastern European nation in direct danger.”

The foreign minister outlined underlined the approach taken by the Indian Government for rescuing the stranded Indian Nationals from Ukraine even before armed conflict broke out.

Jaishankar stated that as the tensions increased, registration drive for Indians was started by the Indian Embassy in Ukraine in January 2022. Despite warning them, a large number of students decided to stay back.

This was because of a “natural reluctance” to leave educational institutions, which could affect their studies, he explained. He further added that some Ukrainian universities “actively discouraged” and “showed reluctance” to offer online courses.

Indian Community being widely spread across the war-torn country, and getting them out was a big task. It posed several logistical challenges. So Operation Ganga was launched to evacuate Indians. The exit points were already clogged by an estimated 26 lakh refugees, Jaishankar pointed out.

“At the direction of the PM, we launched Operation Ganga, thereby undertaking one of the most challenging evacuation exercises during an ongoing conflict situation. The exercise was undertaken at a time when military actions, including airstrikes and shelling, were underway,” he said.

With the counterparts in Ukraine, Russia and the five adjoining countries the foreign minister was constant touch. With their help the stranded nationals were evacuated safely. The most challenging part was getting out Indian nationals stuck in Kharkiv and Sumy, he added.

The evacuation operation was monitored by Ministry of External Affairs, very closely, Jaishankar informed the House.

The Operation Ganga is a joint effort involving multiple central ministries, has so far brought back 22,500 Indians back to the country from Ukraine, facing severe challenges.

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