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Ukraine crisis: Students in Kharkiv brave war, winter and shortage of supplies

Kochi, Feb 26 (PTI) Like most international students stranded in Ukraine as Russian forces close in around the country, the 2000-odd students from Kerala are facing a twin crisis — the dangers posed by raining missiles as well as the increasingly real prospect of running out of food, supplies or medicines.

When PTI contacted Jayakrishnan J R, a final year medical student from Kerala and a rescue member from Kharkiv in the eastern region of the war-ridden Ukraine, he was busy collecting food and supplies for around 200-odd members who had taken refuge in a bunker along with him.

“The weather is harsh as it’s snowing and we are not sure for how long we will have electricity. Currently we have food and supplies to last three more days. There are many first year students here who are new to this type of weather. Their health may get affected,” Jayakrishnan said.

There are over 1,500 students from Kerala in Kharkiv alone who are currently in various bunkers in the city which is just 30 kilometers from the Russian border.

Students said when they contacted the embassy, the officials asked them to remain inside the bunker and stay safe.

“But how are we going to survive without basic necessities like food and water and that too in this freezing weather. The availability of medicines is also short. We request the government to plan evacuation from such critical and dangerous zones,” he said.

There are many students who have booked flight tickets for Rs 60,000 and are unable to leave the bunkers.

Ann and Preethi, two other medical students from Kerala are currently staying in a deep underground metro station.

They said they were receiving messages from locals asking them to stay inside the metro station itself as local authorities have instructed everyone to stay inside due to bombing.

Students in Kharkiv are hoping that the Indian Embassy will arrange their evacuation from the most dangerous region in the war zone.

“We are on the eastern border of Ukraine and currently the evacuation is happening through the western border of the country. We are stranded on this side as the Russian border is just 30 kilometers from here. We need to cover a distance of around 1,500 km to reach the evacuation points which is not possible at this time,” Preethi said.

Ann said the sub zero temperature has affected the students a lot as many of them fled their hostels when the bombing started without even wearing proper footwear.

Ann, Preethi and around 50 others have taken refuge in a deep underground metro station in Kharkiv.

“We are comparatively safer in the metro station than most of the bunkers in the city as the bunkers are very old and have not been used for many years. Due to the lack of renovations, it’s not safe. Also those in deep bunkers find it difficult to contact the authorities to inform them about their presence,” Preethi said.

There are 2,320 students from Kerala studying in Ukraine and the state government has sought the intervention of the External Affairs Ministry to ensure their safety.

Television channels have aired numerous visuals of Kerala students in the war-ridden nation explaining their plight.

Earlier in the day, Air India’s first evacuation flight departed from Romanian capital Bucharest for Mumbai with approximately 250 Indian nationals who were stranded there. PTI RRT SA SA

This report is auto-generated from PTI news service. ThePrint holds no responsibility for its content.

Source: The Print

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