Thousands of trapped
Pakistanis suffering in
Ukraine, 15 students
arrested at German border

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UKRAINE: The Pakistan embassy in Ukraine asked its nationals on Sunday to follow local rules and regulations after 15 students were arrested while trying to escape to Germany from Poland. The embassy in Kyiv has been trying to evacuate Pakistani nationals since Russia launched a massive military invasion of Ukraine on Thursday.

But according to Pakistani media sources, hundreds of Pakistanis complaining that they are suffering due to non-cooperation of Pakistani diplomatic staff. They have requested Pakistan Government to take appropriate measures for their help.

According to its officials, a majority of 3,000 Pakistani students have been evacuated from the Eastern European state after Russian armed forces started pounding Ukrainian cities with artillery shells and cruise missiles.

Pakistani national including students stand in queue outside the Pakistan embassy in Kyiv, the capital of Ukraine.

“Avoid trying to escape,” an official of the Pakistan embassy told a group of students being evacuated to Poland on Sunday. “For the last two days, entry to Poland has been closed since 15 Pakistanis who previously entered the Polish territory were caught while trying to escape to Germany.”

The official said the incident prompted the European Union to stop Poland from allowing any entry from Ukraine. “After the efforts and requests of our ambassador in Poland, they have granted evacuation permission on humanitarian grounds,” he informed.

The Pakistan embassy said the evacuated students were getting a 15-day visa, adding they could not travel any other country except their own.

Pakistan’s foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Sunday called his Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba to share his “serious concern” over the intensifying Russian invasion of the Eastern European country and urged for de-escalation.

The development came as street fighting broke out in Ukraine’s second-largest city of Kharkiv and Russian troops squeezed strategic ports in the country’s south, advances that appeared to mark a new phase of Russia’s invasion following a wave of attacks on airfields and fuel facilities elsewhere in the country.

Pakistani national including students stand in queue outside the Pakistan embassy in Kyiv, the capital of Ukraine.

Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv, was eerily quiet on Sunday after huge explosions lit up the morning sky and authorities reported blasts at one of the airports. Only an occasional car appeared on a deserted main boulevard as a strict 39-hour curfew kept people off the streets. Terrified residents instead hunkered down in homes, underground garages and subway stations in anticipation of a full-scale Russian assault.

Like many other nations, Pakistan has been busy evacuating its nationals from Ukraine to neighbouring Poland and Romania.

“Spoke with Ukrainian FM Dmytro Kuleba and shared Pakistan’s serious concern, underscoring the importance of de-escalation and indispensability of diplomacy,” the Pakistani foreign minister said on Twitter.

700 Pakistanis being evacuated

A total of 3,000 Pakistani students have already left Ukraine on the advice of Embassy of Pakistan Ukraine and remaining 600-700 are being evacuated. A total of 376 Pakistanis are already at Ukraine-Poland border crossing.

According to a fact sheet issued by Embassy of Pakistan in Ukraine, the Mission has established the following different focal points for facilitation and evacuation of Pakistani citizens from Ukraine:

Students arrive at the Pakistani embassy’s facilitation desk in Lviv, Ukraine on February 26, 2022, to be evacuated to Poland. (Photo Courtesy: Pakistan Embassy in Ukraine Twitter)

Embassy of Pakistan in Ternopil, contact details: 00380636968264, 00923329184350, 00380638282984 (ii) Focal point at Kyiv, 00380932197175 (iii) Facilitation desk in Lviv +380932197175, +380637019154.

According to Pakistan’s Embassy, community 4000, mostly married to Ukrainians, have already left Ukraine on the advice of the Mission. The Mission has been providing accommodation to students in Ternopil and transportation wherever possible especially from Lviv to border crossings. Night curfew is imposed since the last two-three days in different cities of Ukraine including Kharkiv, Lviv and Ternopil. Since yesterday, Kyiv is in 24 hours (day-night) curfew. Ternopil district administration issued warning last night and advised the people to keep their lights off and remain in safe places.

The Embassy further described that now, there is no safe place in Ukraine. And even cities Lviv and Ternopil which are in the west of Ukraine have been hit. As of today, trains tickets are available from Kharkliv to Lvivc and Ternopil. Majority of students from Kharkiv have already reach Lviv and departed for Poland border.

Pakistanis are being evacuated from Ternopil and Lviv to Poland, Hungary, Slovakia and Romania.

Embassy of Pakistan, Ukraine is coordinating with respective Pak Missions for onward facilities. Pakistan Embassy Ukraine is making all possible efforts to evacuated all Pakistani nationals at the earliest.

The government of Ukraine is dysfunctional, yet the Embassy is making all out efforts to facilitate evacuation of Pakistanis from Ukraine.

According to detained results of evacuation efforts of the Embassy are: (i) as many as 125 Pakistani citizens evacuated from Ukraine (ii) 376 Pakistanis are already at Ukraine-Poland border crossing (iii) 04 persons at Ukraine-Romania border (iv) 09 persons are at Ukraine-Hungary border (v) 35 students from Kharkiv have been received by Lviv facilities desk (vi) 30 students from Kharkiv are on the way to Lviv by train and (vii) 07 students have reached Ternopil.