ISLAMABAD: About 35 Pakistani students have been evacuated to Poland from Ukraine, Pakistan’s embassy in Ukraine said on Friday night.

According to a message from one of the students, some of their colleagues were able to board a Poland-bound train from Ukrainian northeastern city of Kharkiv, which was carrying people fleeing the Russian invasion.

There are nearly 300 Pakistani students in the city. Another big group of Pakistani students is based in the capital city of Kyiv.

According to news reports, nearly 1,500 Pakistanis, including 500 students, have been stranded in Ukraine since the start of the Russian assault on Thursday. Some had left the country earlier.

The embassy, in a Twitter posting, said it had facilitated the evacuation of those students and was making arrangements for their further transportation to Warsaw.

The Foreign Office said another group of 35-40 students was on the way to Ternopil from Kharkiv and expected to reach there by Saturday afternoon.

PIA makes arrangements to bring back stranded students

Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, at a media briefing, said the embassy had been temporarily moved from Kyiv to Ternopil on the border with Poland to facilitate evacuations. He said all Pakistanis in Ukraine were safe.

The embassy has been advising the students to reach Ternopil. However, students in messages on social media questioned how could they travel hundreds of kilometres in the absence of transport and under the precarious security situation. They also complained of difficulties in contacting the embassy.

Earlier, videos of students and other Pakistanis appealing for assistance in evacuation emerged on social media.

Pakistani missions in Poland, Romania and Hungary have, meanwhile, been told by the Foreign Office to assist the Pakistanis coming out of Ukraine.

Meanwhile, PIA chief retired Air Marshal Arshad Malik on Friday called Pakistan’s Ambassador in Ukraine retired Maj Gen Noel Khokhar and discussed with the latter different options to evacuate Pakistani students stranded there.

According to a statement, the PIA chief said arrangements had been made to bring back the students. He said all the students would gather in Ternopil and reach Poland via land route from where they would be brought to Pakistan through special flight operation.

Earlier, in a tweet, the PIA chief said that currently Ukraine’s airspace was closed, but various options were being worked out for safe evacuation of the Pakistani students.

“I spoke to HE Gen Noel, our ambassador in Ukraine, he was wide awake with his full team in embassy, discussed various options to recover our students through #PIA, airspace is closed but working out various options In Sha Allah, we shall find a way, PIA is a call away,” he tweeted.

Published in Dawn, February 26th, 2022

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