At least a dozen Pakistanis have been stuck at various war-hit cities of Ukraine where an intense battle is going on for the last couple of weeks between Russian and Ukrainian forces. As many as, 10 Pakistanis have been stuck at Kherson and Mariupol, five at each city, whereas two Pakistanis are stuck at Melitopol. “The embassy of Pakistan in Russia is also coordinating the safety and evacuation of these Pakistanis stuck in areas now under Russian control,” Pakistani Ambassador to Ukraine Dr Noel I Khokar said, while adding the Russian authorities have been informed about these Pakistanis and soon they will be evacuated to safer places.
Khokar stated that the creation of a humanitarian corridor was attempted to evacuate civilians from Mariupol, which was partially successful enabling the evacuation of around 700 people including four Pakistanis who are now on their way to Lviv. Talking exclusively to Bol News from Ukraine, the Ambassador further said 15 Pakistani have also been held at the Volyn Detention Centre and the Mission was doing dedicated efforts for their early release from the Centre.A team of mission staff traveled 300 kilometres, verified the individuals, and prepared ETDs, however, the Pakistani captives refused to be evacuated to Romania and demanded to be taken to the Polish border. “Ukrainian authorities had refused to release them for Poland as they had been arrested illegally crossing into Poland,” said Khokar.
The Ambassador further said that more than 1,550 Pakistanis, majority of them students, have been evacuated safely from the war-hit Ukraine since Russian forces had attacked the country on February 24, 2022. According to United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, more than three million people have fled Ukraine since February 24, 2022 and many continue to leave as Kyiv, the capital city, is being surrounded by Russian Forces. According to the Ambassador, humanitarian aid by Pakistan has been delivered to Ukraine on March 16, 2022. Khokar also revealed that the banking system in Ukraine had crashed on February, 24 which has been affecting the Mission’s efforts to make necessary payments at times.
According to the Ambassador, a total of 7,000 Pakistanis including 3,000 students were in Ukraine before the start of the war. He said based on the Embassy’s advice, most Pakistanis left Ukraine before February, 24 2022. “Pakistanis, including students, who didn’t want to leave were asked to register their particulars with the Pakistan embassy in Ukraine, however, by February 20, a only 596 students registered themselves.” Since February 24, the Embassy has evacuated twice the number, Khokar said. According to the diplomat, the lack of registration by Pakistanis and students had affected the planning and execution of the evacuation plan. However, remaining Pakistanis are being safely evacuated to neighboring countries. The Pakistanis who were staying in Ukraine on their own have now left Ukraine on repeated advice by this Mission.
At the moment, according to the Khokar, the situation in Sumy, Mariupol, Kherson and Kharkiv is very precarious, he said, adding, as per record of the Mission, the evacuation of all Pakistani citizens from Sumy and Kharkiv, Kyiv and Poltava cities have been completed.
Responding to a query, the Ambassador said three Pakistanis are also in Ukrainian jails including Fahad Tariq Butt, Pervez Khan and Syed Salman Bukhari, for human and drug trafficking and for murder charges respectively. The Ambassador also shared that currently Ukraine has imposed a ban on all Ukrainian national, Pakistani origin males aged between 18 and 60, except for those with three or more children, from leaving Ukraine.
He further maintained that 12 Pakistani-origin Ukrainians including Arif Qazi, Sohail Siddique, Kashif Shahzad, Munir Mughal, Muhammad Shafiq, Kamran Younas, Muhammad Munir Qamar, Malik Ahsan Ali, Pervez Khalid, Fayyaz Babar Bhatti, Mubashir Abbas and Kamran Sohail have approached the Embassy for the provision of an Emergency Travel Documents and the ministry of foreign affairs has been approached for policy on this matter.
According to the Ambassador, besides a facilitation desk at the temporary Embassy of Pakistan at Ternopil, four other focal persons for Lviv, Chernivtsi, Kyiv and Ternopil have been established to facilitate the countrymen for 24-hours, throughout the week. The Mission, Khokar added, even with a shortage of staff is providing accommodation and transportation to Pakistanis in Ternopil, especially from Ternopil to border crossings as all border crossings are working smoothly.