India Safely Evacuated 22,500 Citizens from Ukraine, Nationals from 18 Other Countries, Says Top UN Envoy

India’s top envoy at the United Nations said the country had ensured the safe return of 22,500 of Indian citizens from war-torn Ukraine along with assisting in the evacuation of nationals from 18 other countries. India’s permanent representative to the UN ambassador TS Tirumurti also voiced concern over the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Ukraine since it was attacked by Russia on February 24.

Tirumurti was speaking at the UN Security Council briefing on the Ukraine war on Thursday. India started running special flights under ‘Operation Ganga’ to bring back stranded Indian nationals, including students, from Ukraine.

The top envoy said there was an “urgent need” to address humanitarian needs of the affected population, as such action was guided by principles of humanity, neutrality, impartiality and independence. “India continues to remain deeply concerned at the ongoing situation, which has progressively deteriorated since the beginning of the hostilities. The conflict has resulted in the death of civilians; displacement of thousands of people internally and the outflow of more than three million refugees to neighbouring countries. The humanitarian situation has worsened, particularly in the conflict zones,” he said.

Tirumurti further thanked the Ukrainian authorities and the country’s neighbours in facilitating the safe evacuation of Indian citizens. “We are deeply appreciative of the facilitation rendered by the authorities of Ukraine and its neighbouring countries in ensuring their safe return,” he said.

Tirumurti also endorsed the Centre’s view of the need for immediate ceasefire. He said Prime Minister Narendra Modi had also emphasised that there was no option but the path of dialogue and diplomacy. “We stand ready to continue to engage on these objectives in the Security Council, as well as with the Parties, in the coming days. We continue to underline the need to respect the UN Charter, international law and the sovereignty and territorial integrity of states,” he added.

Tirumurti also told the UNSC that India had sent over 90 tonnes of supplies to Ukraine and its neighbours, as part of humanitarian aid since March 1. These supplies included medicines and other essential relief. “We are in the process of identifying other such requirements and sending further supplies in the coming days,” he added.

The UNSC meeting on the humanitarian situation in Ukraine was requested by the United States, Albania, United Kingdom, France, Ireland and Norway.

Russian President Vladimir Putin on February 24 announced a “military operation” against Ukraine and warned other countries that any attempt to interfere will lead to “unprecedented” consequences. The war has entered its fourth week, creating a humanitarian crisis in which over three million Ukrainians have fled their country, as per UN estimates.

(With PTI inputs)

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