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The government has decided to involve the Indian Air Force (IAF) and commercial flights in its “Operation Ganga” initiative, which aims to evacuate mainly medical students from Ukraine. Sources have informed The Indian Express that the Air Force has been asked to contribute transport aircraft to the evacuation efforts.

Although there is no official confirmation from the government or the Air Force, it is anticipated that the IAF will deploy its large C-17 Globemaster aircraft for the operation. These aircraft were previously used for evacuations from Afghanistan after the fall of Kabul to the Taliban in August 2021.

Air Force officials have stated their readiness for any task assigned to them.

The Indian Embassy in Ukraine issued an advisory urging all Indian nationals, including students, to leave Kyiv urgently, preferably by available trains or any other means.

Several videos have emerged on social media showing Indian students in Kyiv, Kharkiv, and at the border with Poland and Romania appealing for help. They reported shortages of food and water, and being denied entry into other countries, forcing them to spend nights in freezing temperatures.

India is dispatching four Union Ministers to Ukraine’s neighboring nations to oversee the evacuation efforts. Out of the nearly 20,000 Indian nationals in Ukraine, 8,000 have already left since the first advisory earlier this month, leaving approximately 12,000 still there, many struggling to return home.

Air India, IndiGo, and Spice Jet have announced special flights to repatriate Indian nationals. Air India has operated six flights from to Bucharest in Romania and Budapest in Hungary, bringing back 1,396 nationals, with eight more flights planned to the two airports in the coming days, as well as additional flights from Warsaw in Poland.

IndiGo has dispatched aircraft to Bucharest and Budapest via Istanbul as part of “Operation Ganga,” with both flights expected to make a refueling stop at Istanbul. Similarly, a SpiceJet flight departed for Budapest from Delhi on Monday, and will make a refueling stop at Kutaisi in Georgia on its return leg.

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