State Minister for Foreign Affairs Md. Shahriar Alam on Thursday said the government will arrange chartered flights to bring back Bangladeshis who would leave warn-stricken Ukraine and arrive in neighbouring Poland.
“Our first task is to bring our citizens to Poland safely from Ukraine,” he told reporters at his office, adding that they have already talked to the Civil Aviation Authority of Bangladesh (CAAB) and Biman Bangladesh Airlines about the possible evacuation.
The state minister said they will finalize the modalities of evacuation from Poland and if necessary they will talk to foreign airlines too.
“They (Bangladeshis) need to come to the Polish border from Ukraine with their own arrangement,” he said, adding that the Polish government, earlier, assured of providing visas for them to cross the border which is yet to begin.
Poland will allow Bangladeshis to stay for 15 days upon their arrival from Ukraine and the government of Bangladesh hopes to repatriate its citizens much ahead of the timeline.
Shahriar said Bangladesh Embassy in Poland is taking preparations to provide accommodation facilities for Bangladeshis’ stay there until their evacuation.
The Bangladesh Embassy in Warsaw approached the Polish government on Thursday morning again to issue arrival visas urgently.
“We’re sending additional officials from our missions in Italy and Germany so that required services can be provided to Bangladeshis within the shortest possible time,” said the state minister.
Bangladesh on Thursday asked its nationals in Ukraine "to move to safer places" with Kyiv closing its airspace amid a Russian invasion while the country's embassy in Poland is exploring ways to give Bangladeshis shelter.
An estimated 500 Bangladeshi nationals, including students, are currently stranded in Ukraine.
Bangladesh's Embassy in Poland said that it is in touch with the host government as well as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Dhaka "regarding further steps to ensure the safety of Bangladeshis in Ukraine".
"Around 500 Bangladeshis are in direct touch with us. We have asked them to take shelter in safer places," Bangladesh's Ambassador to Poland Sultana Laila Hossain told UNB over the phone from Warsaw.
She said they are preparing a database which will be shared with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Poland as traveling to Poland would require visas.
The ambassador said they also will request the Polish government to allow Bangladeshis into the country, noting that some of the Bangladeshis might not have passports who will require travel permits.
“We’ll seek to know how to proceed considering the current situation," she said.
Asked about exact figure of Bangladeshis in Ukraine including undocumented ones, she said they were getting a number in between 1000-1500 but many moved from Ukraine already. We don’t have an accurate figure.”
The ambassador said Bangladeshis are not concentrated in a single place and those who are in touch with the embassy informed this morning about bombing and siren.
“We had a meeting with them last night. We asked them to move to safer places with required food and money,” said the envoy.
She said they are getting updates from those who are in touch with the embassy but they are yet to establish contact with others.
However, she said that they (Bangladeshis) are encouraged to share information with each other so that others can also get in touch with the mission.
Bangladesh does not currently have an embassy or a consulate in Ukraine. The country's embassy in Poland takes care of its Ukraine affairs.
On February 15, the embassy asked Bangladeshi nationals in Ukraine to consider leaving Ukraine temporarily in view of the volatile situation in that country.
Bangladeshi nationals were also advised to avoid all non-essential travel to Ukraine and keep the embassy in Poland informed about the status of their presence in Ukraine to enable the mission to reach them easily, according to an earlier advisory.
Russian troops launched their anticipated attack on Ukraine on Thursday, as President Vladimir Putin cast aside international condemnation and sanctions, warning other countries that any attempt to interfere would lead to “consequences you have never seen".
Big explosions were heard before dawn in Kyiv, Kharkiv and Odesa as world leaders decried the start of a Russian invasion that could cause massive casualties and topple Ukraine’s democratically elected regime.