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Inside the journey to flee Ukraine | The Express Tribune



When Ehteshmul Haq bid farewell to his household at Dera Ismail Khan and boarded a airplane to Ukraine within the winter of 2020, lots was on the playing cards for the medical pupil, however a struggle that prompted him to name for emergency evacuation from his politicians Will do

Until every week in the past, when the air a few attainable Russian offensive started to fill town of Kharkiv, and residents had been elevating their batons, they anticipated it to go.

“We had contacted the Pakistani embassy, ​​they assured us that everything is fine and protocols are in place if the situation escalates. We asked the university if we could go back home and take our classes online, but they also told us to stay and there was nothing to worry about,” he recalled, making his manner via a packed metro station. carrying the products, which had now grow to be a bomb shelter for hundreds of individuals making an attempt to flee Russian air raids.

evening of horror

Although one may really feel the stress suspended in Kharkiv’s air days earlier than the battle, the struggle entered town on the morning of 23 February, when an explosion at one of many army bases close to town shattered Ehtesham’s condominium.

“We were still unsure how bad things were, but Kharkiv is just 40 kilometers from Russian soil and surrounded by military bases, so we knew we were in sight of a storm,” the scholar continued to name the emergency hotline. Said whereas dialing. His embassy, ​​after a number of hours entangled within the metro station, however all in useless.

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When the disaster was regularly realized, many overseas college students like Ehtesham needed to undergo the dreadful evening of 23 February, that was the consolation of the neighborhood. “Everyone is too scared to be alone tonight, so people are trying to be in groups in case something bad happens,” Priya, an Indian pupil, recalled updating her household again dwelling on WhatsApp Said that she used to name her Pakistani good friend. Ariz to be with him.

journey to lviv

The subsequent day, February 24, when information of the Moscow assault made headlines around the globe, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky declared martial legislation nationwide. Ehtesham, Priya and Ariz, who had been all college students of Kharkiv National Medical University, had been now made conscious of the full-scale assault on Ukrainian land and instructed to take shelter in bunkers and underground stations till additional discover from their embassies. went.

The Indian embassy was additionally troublesome to succeed in, in line with textual content messages exchanged between Priya along with her sister in Delhi, which offered little or no assist in transferring the scholars from conflict-torn Kharkiv to safety. “I am scared. We are being asked to walk for 20 hours, but it is not safe there, and sirens are constantly sounding to warn us of an airstrike,” she had informed her involved sister.

On the opposite hand, the Pakistani embassy via a tweet had issued directions to Pakistanis to maneuver in direction of Ternopil in western Ukraine, which is 900 km from Kharkiv metropolis. “Ours was the worst affected city, so getting out of Kharkiv was the main problem. All the buses and trains were overbooked. We had no way to go anywhere and no one at the embassy was receiving our calls,” mentioned one other Pakistani. Said the scholar, who was caught within the metro station with none meals or water association.

After spending virtually a day in a makeshift bomb shelter, a WhatsApp message on a bunch of South Asian college students alerted Ehtesham and pals that airstrikes had been quickly to focus on civilian areas and that Kharkiv was compromised. However, public transport was nonetheless unavailable and the embassy now requested the scholars to alter their course in Lviv, a metropolis close to the Polish border, from the place they might ultimately journey to Poland.

It was now clear that entering into the practice must be by drive. After eight hours of tireless efforts, some college students together with Ehtesham managed to get into the packed coach, which was a number of hours late and took one other 18 hours to succeed in the vacation spot.

At the identical time, college students from different cities akin to Ternopil and Kyiv additionally started to come back to town of Lviv.

“In our correspondence, the embassy told us that buses would be ready for us in the city centre,” shared Timur, who had fled the Ukrainian capital amid what was described as a “rain of fire from the sky” and landed in Lviv. . From there, he was joined by different college students on a 35-kilometer journey to the border website, which took about eight hours in excessive climate with none meals or water, as wartime sirens sounded within the distance.


According to Kainat, a pupil who had lined 128 kilometers coming from Ternopil to Lviv, after which strolling greater than 35 kilometers throughout the border, the evacuation website was no completely different from a battlefield.

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“It was very crowded and we could not find anyone from the Pakistani embassy there to guide us while the Ukrainian authorities were not letting us foreigners. All we could do was sit helplessly under the open sky, until the day turned cold, the winds cut like glass and there was nothing to save us from the weather,” she defined, handing out the meals. The Ukrainians who lived near the border additionally perished throughout the wait.

Meanwhile, the federal government had already issued a number of claims of instant evacuation help after experiences of stranded Pakistani college students again dwelling began doing the rounds on social media.

“There are excessive difficulties on the border crossing factors because of the giant variety of [of people] I need to depart Ukraine. Embassies and Ministries are actively participating the Government of Ukraine to expedite the method,” learn a tweet by the Pakistani Embassy in Ukraine.

Read additionally: Ukraine and Russia: what you need to know right now

Speaking to a state broadcaster on the morning of 27 February, Pakistan’s Ambassador to Ukraine Dr Noel Khokhar assured that over 125 Pakistani college students had already been safely evacuated from the Ukrainian border publish, whereas greater than 378 had been nonetheless to cross. and 30 on the best way.

“We have till now covered 80 per cent of our evacuation from inaccessible areas, but the border post is crowded and we are trying to facilitate the students,” he mentioned.

Conversely, nonetheless, college students bordered by Polish borders alleged that they’d acquired no assist from their dwelling embassy in getting right here, and that the majority of their evacuation efforts had been a check of self-restraint.

“In the case of one night, we were asked to pack our bags and leave in uncertainty. All our necessary documents including birth certificate and transcript are still with our universities and we do not know what the future will hold for us,” mentioned a pupil of Kharkiv National Medical University, talking on behalf of his colleague.

make it for security

After one other evening of ready, Pakistani college students together with Ehtesham, Ariz, Kainaat and Taimur had been capable of present some readability on the standing of their evacuation to their anxious family and friends. Eventually the border was seen to be open and the queues of individuals had been seen shifting ahead. Hours later, the Pakistani embassy introduced that it had safely evacuated greater than 606 college students from Ukraine to Poland.

“Our phones were ringing incessantly and some of us were down until the last of the battery. The thought of losing touch with family was terrifying on both ends, but we were relieved to hear that we could all cross Poland, the last Ukrainians were given priority despite being among the groups,” shared Kainat.

Read additionally: Russian, Ukrainian forces face off in Kyiv ‘198 civilians killed’

According to sources near the evacuation companies, nonetheless, an preliminary holdup on the border website was made by Polish officers, on the suspicion {that a} group of Pakistani nationals who had initially crossed over was unaccounted for. “It then took some diplomatic effort to persuade the Polish authorities to reopen their doors and persuade the remaining Pakistanis to cross in,” the supply claimed.

After what appeared like an eternity of navigating a battlefield, college students may now see themselves one step nearer to security. As per the final replace acquired, Kainaat was issued an exit stamp on her passport at 6:30 pm on Sunday together with Ehtesham and different college students who had fled from Ukraine. They had been then locked up in Warsaw, the capital of Poland, for being taken to Pakistan.

At the conclusion of this text, all designated Pakistani college students had reached Warsaw safely, whereas the Pakistani authorities had introduced the hiring of a nationwide flag service to deliver the scholars dwelling.

However, some college students alleged that getting on the airplane has been an uphill battle to this point.

Responding to which, Pakistan International Airline’s Head of Corporate Communications Abdullah Khan mentioned that the Government of Pakistan has sought time until March 1 to resolve whether or not the plane shall be required or not.

“A lot of students are still indecisive about going home or waiting for things to do in Poland, while some are citing permission issues from their university. However, we stand ready to assist students when needed,” He informed The Express Tribune.

Disclaimer: Despite a number of makes an attempt to contact the Pakistani Embassy in Ukraine for his or her assertion on the matter, no phrase has been acquired to this point.


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