Government Policy

Bangladesh scrambles to get its nationals in Ukraine to safety

“Alhamdulillah (praise be to Almighty).” That’s the only word Sohan’s mother was repeating to her loving son over the phone after his safe arrival in Hungary from Ukraine.

Sohanur Rahman Sohan, one of the Bangladeshi students in Ukraine, had never thought that he would go through such moments full of uncertainties in his life on a foreign land far from his mother and only brother.

“It’s my mother whom I made the first call to after crossing the Ukraine-Hungary border and getting settled in Budapest. She was continuously turning to the Almighty in dua and kept offering Namaj seeking my safety,” Sohan told UNB over phone as he describes how life by its very nature is a test.

The 23-year-old young man, a medical student of Uzhhorod National University, Ukraine got into trouble when he along with his two friends went to Kyiv, the capital city of Ukraine, from Uzhhorod to see off one of his Indian friends just a day before Russian forces launched attacks on Ukraine.

“The following day, I felt so helpless. I got very frustrated when cars kept refusing to take me and my friends to my city Uzhhorod due to long distance,” said Sohan, noting that he feared his dream to complete study from a leading university which has a rich history of more than six decades in the field of medical education would get shattered halfway.

After a long wait, they managed to convince a car driver at a very expensive fare while Sohan kept updating his mother about everything.

Bangladesh scrambles to get its nationals in Ukraine to safety

By this time, they joined the WhatsApp group created by Bangladesh Mission in Poland which ultimately helped them find a way on how they can cross the border and enter Hungary.

“There was a fear in my mind until we got the car. I was just thinking – am I going to die or survive? But now I’m safe,” said Sohan who is now staying together with his friends in a university hostel in Budapest. “We thank Bangladesh and officials of Bangladesh Missions.”

Sohan, who lost his father a few years back is now a third year student who went to Ukraine on December 4, 2018. He is one of the first 15 Bangladeshi students who arrived in Hungary on Saturday crossing the Ukrainian border. They are now being looked after by the Bangladesh Embassy in Vienna.

The number is likely to go up in the next few days, the government says. They are also willing to return to Bangladesh now.

Though there are many foreigners including Bangladeshis who are desperately trying to leave Ukraine, some still want to stay back.

Khaled Mosharraf is one of the Bangladeshis who wants to stay back and see the situation further. “I was never in a hurry in my life. Like others, I don’t want to leave. I still find it safe to stay here,” he told UNB over the phone, noting that he is living with his family members in Kyiv.

Khaled, hailing from Chandpur district, has been living in Ukraine since 1992 and developed deep attachment with the country where he is running his own business.

“If I see that the situation gets deteriorated in Kyiv, I will go to other cities in Ukraine,” he said, insisting that he is not willing to leave Ukraine.

“Happy to see them smiling,” Bangladesh Ambassador to Austria Muhammad Abdul Muhith tweeted, sharing a photo of 15 Bangladeshi students who were received by Deputy Chief of Mission Rahat Bin Zaman along the Hungary-Ukraine border.

Bangladesh scrambles to get its nationals in Ukraine to safety

Over 400 Bangladeshis have so far safely crossed the Ukrainian border and reached its neighbouring countries, including Poland, according to the government.

The government of Bangladesh is arranging their repatriation and is in touch with relevant organizations for their return home.

Meanwhile, State Minister for Foreign Affairs Md Shahriar Alam chaired a virtual meeting on Sunday with Bangladesh envoys in Austria, Poland and Romania, and representatives of the relevant ministries to discuss the ways for safe return of Bangladeshis from Ukraine and subsequent return to Bangladesh.

Around 400 Bangladeshis have safely crossed the Ukrainian border and reached Poland, said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Sunday night.

Among them, 46 Bangladeshis are in temporary shelter arranged by the Bangladesh Embassy in Warsaw.

The rest of them are on their own arrangements as per their choice though they were offered shelter by the embassy.

The embassy is working to rescue and relocate 28 Bangladesh nationals as of now through the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Ukraine.

The embassy is also working to evacuate Bangladeshis who are in jail or detained in Ukraine through International Organization for Migration (IOM), Ukraine.

Three Bangladeshis have so far entered Romania, who are now being looked after by the Bangladesh Embassy in Bucharest.

Seven more Bangladeshis are expected to enter Romania soon. They are also willing to return to Bangladesh immediately, said the MoFA.

The government would arrange chartered flights to bring back Bangladeshis from Poland. Poland will allow Bangladeshis to stay for 15 days upon their arrival from Ukraine and the government of Bangladesh hopes to bring back its citizens much ahead of the 15-day timeline.

Earlier, Bangladesh asked its nationals stranded in Ukraine to contact the country’s diplomatic missions in the neighbouring European countries while Poland and Romania came forward to provide temporary shelters for Bangladeshis.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Friday issued helpline numbers for the stranded Bangladeshi nationals to help them get into Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Hungary and Moldova, all bordering Ukraine.

For Slovakia and Hungary, Bangladesh nationals have been asked to get in touch with the Bangladesh Embassy in Austria.

They can reach Rahat Bin Zaman, Deputy Chief of Mission on +43 688 60344492 and Jubayadul H Chowdhury on +43 688 60603068 in Vienna.

For Romania and Moldova, people in distress can get in touch with the Bangladesh Embassy in Romania, Bucharest: (i) +40 (742) 553 809, (ii) Mir Mehedi Hasan (tel and WhatsApp group) +40 (742) 553 809.

For Poland, they can contact the following people at the Bangladesh Embassy in Warsaw — Md Masudur Rahman, +48 739 527 722: Md Mahbubur Rahman, +48 579 262 403; MST Farhana Yesmin, +48 690 282 561; Billal Hossain, +48 739 634 125; and Md Rabbani, +48 696 745 903.

Bangladesh citizens carrying passports can secure a travel pass at the border to enter Poland without a visa, but they need to carry two colour passport-sized photos with them, the Bangladesh Embassy in Warsaw said in a notification.

Bangladesh does not currently have an embassy or a consulate in Ukraine. The country’s Embassy in Poland only acts as Ukraine’s de-facto diplomatic mission.

A team from the Embassy in Warsaw is working near the Poland-Ukraine border to assist Bangladeshi citizens wishing to enter Poland. The two countries share an over 500km-long border.

Source: United News of Bangladesh