Russia-Ukraine crisis: 'I flew to UAE hours before Kyiv airport was attacked'

Ticket fares reached 90,000 Indian rupees by the time the 20-year-old was able to board a plane

Muhamed Adil Javad
Muhamed Adil Javad

Ashwani Kumar

Published: Fri 25 Feb 2022, 6:35 PM

Last updated: Fri 25 Feb 2022, 10:59 PM

Muhamed Adil Javad is among the lucky students to have flow out of Kyiv airport to the UAE hours before Ukraine airspace was closed following the Russian invasion.

Javad never expected the dramatic turn of events of the past two days. Today, missile strikes rocked the border region of Zaporizhzhia, the south-eastern city of Ukraine, where he has been studying medicine for the past two years.

"I am a second-year MBBS student at Zaporizhzhia State Medical University. Ukraine-Russia tensions have been there for years, but none believed it would escalate to a war. The current situation is unpredictable. I was at the Kyiv airport for nearly two days and flew out some five hours before it was attacked. Now there are battle tanks on the streets," said Javad from his home in Sharjah.

Javad is concerned about his friends who are stuck in Zaporizhzhia. Some who escaped the blast at the airport to take refuge in a university's hostel.

"They are ready with travel documents. Most buildings there have bunkers. They would be moved to bunkers if there were any attacks."


Javad noted that there was an air of uncertainty with the Indian Embassy in Ukraine - his own university was giving mixed signals on any impending threats until last week.

"On February 15, the embassy said we 'may leave temporarily'. Our university said we will have to return in two weeks' time as in-person classes were to resume by March 8 or 9. Since none foresaw an invasion by Russia, most students decided to stay put. It was only by February 19-20 that the Embassy and the university advised us to leave. By then, ticket fares hit up to 70,000 Indian rupees. It was a mad rush."

Situation changed in hours

Javad studied at Sharjah Indian School and The Central School in Dubai till Grade 10 and later studied till Grade 12 in the Indian state of Kerala. He is now on a visit visa and joined his parents and five siblings studying in Sharjah. The 20-year-old recollected the hectic two-day activities to somehow reach the UAE.

"On February 21 night, I left Zaporizhzhia by bus and reached Boryspil International Airport in Kyiv by the next morning. It's a 10-hour journey. There was no threatening situation then. I was supposed to board a Turkish Airlines flight via Istanbul. But there was an issue as I would be landing at Istanbul's one airport and transiting from another to take my next flight to Sharjah. I needed a Turkish visa to travel from one airport to another in Istanbul."

"My travel got cancelled. I booked a fresh ticket to travel via Amsterdam. By then, ticket fares reached 90,000 Indian rupees because of excess demand. On February 23, I flew out from Kyiv to Amsterdam and then on an Etihad Airways flight to reach Abu Dhabi on Thursday morning. I am told that Kyiv was shut five hours after I left. Things turned on its head in a matter of hours."

Muhamed Adil Javad with his family
Muhamed Adil Javad with his family

Pray for safety of stranded

Javad pointed out that the Embassy is trying to evacuate students by road through Hungary and Romania, but transport is at a standstill as tanks are running on the streets.

"It's a battleground everywhere. ATMs are out of money, food, water and electricity is running low."

Abdunasar, Javad's father, said the family was tense and continues to remain concerned for those stuck there.

"I have been living here for the past 29 years. I have six children and Javad is the only one studying abroad. We are lucky to have got him back on time. I insisted on him returning. They were unaware about the seriousness of the issue and simmering tension. Hundreds of students are still stuck there."

Hajara, Javad's mother, prays for Javad's friends' safety and well-being and others stranded.

"His friends had tickets for the next flight, but they couldn't fly as the airspace was shut. I just hope they are back safely with their families."

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