Ninin Chattarji (L) with his mother and brother after landing in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday night Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: Three UAE-based students, who have been evacuated from Ukraine to India, have finally reached their families.

Having taken shelter in bunkers and braving freezing temperatures on the streets, the students are now thankful for their safe return through the Indian Government’s ‘Operation Ganga’.

Al Ain resident Gopakumar Gopalan’s daughter Shreyasi Gopakumar managed to board an evacuation flight from Budapest in Hungary to New Delhi on Monday and proceeded to her mother’s house in the south Indian state of Kerala.

Rohan Ranjith and Ninin Chattarji, sons of Abu Dhabi residents Dr Ranjith Kumar and Santhosh Chattarji respectively, flew from Bucharest in Romania to New Delhi on Tuesday. While Rohan Ranjith also flew to his family’s house in Kerala, Ninin Chattarji flew down to Abu Dhabi to join his family here late on Tuesday night.

Rohan Ranjith with his mother and grandmother after reaching Kerala Image Credit: Supplied

Speaking to Gulf News over phone from Kerala, Shreyasi said she and her friends had stayed in the bunkers in their hostel for six days before deciding to leave Kharkiv.

Seniors lead students

Shreyasi had joined the MBBS course at V.N. Karazin Kharkiv National University in December 2021. She said their trip to cross the border was led by her seniors Jasna and Ashwin and Shajaz from the agency. “They coordinated with various parties to move ahead,” she added.

Shreyasi Gopakumar with her mother after reaching Kerala
Shreyasi Gopakumar with her mother after reaching Kerala Image Credit: Supplied

Third and first-year students of veterinary science at Lviv National University of Veterinary Medicine, Rohan and Ninin had left their hostel along with 12 other students.

Nuns to the rescue

They said they managed to reach Romania with the help of a group of nuns. “The sisters sent us three vehicles to take us to the border with Romania. We will never forget their help and hospitality,” said Rohan.

Ninin said they were also grateful to others who arranged a shelter for the students soon after they reached Romania.

Grateful to government

The students and their parents also thanked the Indian government for arranging evacuation flights from different neighbouring countries of Ukraine. Thousands of Indian students were evacuated after they crossed the Ukraine border to neighbouring countries. Latest reports on Wednesday said the Indian government had evacuated around 18,000 Indian nationals under Operation Ganga, most of them students.

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Future concerns

Though they are relieved about the safe return of their children, the parents said they were still concerned about the children’s future.

They appreciated the offer from the UAE-based Gulf Medical University to accommodate Indian students displaced from Ukraine with free seats and scholarships based on merit criteria and admission policies. However, they said they were not sure if their children could benefit from the offer.

“Rohan and Ninin will not be eligible as they are students of veterinary sciences,” said Dr Kumar.

Chattarji said the students will have to wait and see the options opening up for them. “I hope their agencies will help with admission somewhere else,” he said.

In the case of Shreyasi, there is still hope as she is a medical student. “I have just started my second semester. But, I am not sure if they will admit students in between the semesters. Anyhow, this is a great gesture,” she added.

The students and parents said they are hoping for help from more universities in the UAE, India and elsewhere to continue their studies.