Jecintha Cyril Gervasis, a fourth-year MBBS student at the Bukovinian State Medical University in Chernivtsi, a city in western Ukraine, is relieved that she has reached her home in South Delhi’s Mehrauli. But she says she is also worried about her career amid uncertainties in war-torn Ukraine as Russian forces reportedly approach Kyiv, the Ukrainian capital.
“I am happy and relieved to meet my family,” Gervasis, 21, told Moneycontrol.
Ukrainian forces were reportedly battling Russian troops on February 25 after Moscow mounted an assault pushing closer to the Ukrainian capital in an invasion of its Western-backed neighbour that is being described as the biggest attack on a European country since the Second World War.
Gervasis was among the few lucky students whose agency arranged a Ukrainian International Airlines chartered flight home. She says while tensions were palpable for the past many weeks in Ukraine, she came to know about the bombings after she landed in India on the morning of Thursday, February 24.
“The flight took us seven-and-a-half hours. There was a halt due to fuel issues. We were worried. But thankfully, all ended well,” said Gervasis, daughter of Cyril Gervasis, a paramilitary officer, and Ancy Cyril, a nurse with a central government hospital in Delhi.
Jecintha Gervasis is one among thousands of Indian students in Ukraine who have returned or are in the process of doing so, either through private efforts or through evacuation by the Indian government. According to rough estimates, one fourth of foreign students in the eastern European country are Indians—around 18,000.
Most of the Indian students in Ukraine study medicine. The state medical colleges spread across the country offer six-year medicine courses at fees less than in private colleges in India and other neighbouring countries.
“I am a little worried about how to complete my courses. I have already spent four years of the course. I hope the university lets us finish online,” said Gervasis.
On February 24, the governments assured Indians stranded in Ukraine that it will take all possible steps to bring them back safe and sound. Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla said at a media briefing that the Indian missions in Ukraine are extending all possible assistance to the Indians notwithstanding the complicated situation.
Shringla said that at a Cabinet Committee on Security meeting, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that the government’s top priority is the safety and security of Indians and their evacuation from Ukraine. Around 4,000 Indian nationals out of 20,000 have already left Ukraine in the past few days, he said.
“I want to assure all Indian citizens including students in Ukraine that we will take all possible steps to bring you back safe and sound,” he said.
The Gervasises on their part are thankful Jecintha is safe. “Our family WhatsApp group was full of panicked messages and enquiries. Now her father, my uncle, has shared that she is back and everyone seems relieved,” said Josna Joseph, Jecintha’s cousin, who works as a creative director in Mumbai.
Jecintha Gervasis said there are around 3000 Indians enrolled in her university in Chernivitsi. She said that while her class had 12 Indians, there were around 300 students in the fourth year of the course at the institute. She is worried about her friends back in Ukraine who are waiting to be evacuated via Romania.