SINGAPORE - There are at least nine Singaporeans currently still in Ukraine, eight of whom are in touch with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) and one who the ministry is trying to contact.
MFA is exploring options for them to leave the country if the situation permits, said Foreign Affairs Minister Vivian Balakrishnan in Parliament on Monday (Feb 28).
The safety of Singaporeans is a priority, and MFA will help them wherever and however possible, he told the House in a ministerial statement that set out Singapore's response to the escalating conflict in Ukraine.
He advised Singaporeans in Ukraine to shelter in place, be vigilant and heed the advice from the authorities. Those who have not yet registered with MFA should do so immediately, he added.
In the lead-up to Russia's invasion into Ukraine on Feb 24, the ministry had issued two travel advisories on Jan 26 and Feb 13, advising Singaporeans there to leave as soon as possible by commercial flights, while it was possible to do so.
Seven Singaporeans left Ukraine after the first advisory, said Dr Balakrishnan.
He added that another three have made their way into Poland, which shares a border with Ukraine.
Responding to Mr Zhulkarnain Abdul Rahim (Chua Chu Kang GRC) on what Asean and Singapore can do to alleviate the situation in Ukraine, Dr Balakrishnan highlighted how the region has taken the stand that there needs to be mutual respect for territorial integrity and sovereignty.
The foreign ministers of the 10-member states of Asean had last Saturday issued a joint statement that called for dialogue among parties involved in the Ukraine crisis.
On Monday, Dr Balakrishnan told the House that one of the Singaporeans who crossed the Ukrainian border into Poland had done so in a convoy with Malaysians, and thanked his Malaysian counterpart for helping with the evacuation.
"So similarly, on the ground, I'm sure we will continue to work with each other, look out for citizens of Asean and, where possible, tompang (piggyback), gotong-royong (working together) and help one another," he said.
"And I think these are teachable moments, good opportunities for Asean to demonstrate value and solidarity with each other where it matters."
Dr Balakrishnan added that Singapore is doing its part to provide humanitarian assistance in Ukraine – the Singapore Red Cross has pledged US$100,000 to support communities affected by the current crisis, in cooperation with the Ukrainian Red Cross Society and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.
“This will provide essential relief supplies such as hygiene kits, family kits and household kits for the vulnerable who have been displaced by the conflict,” he said.
The Government will also contribute US$100,000 through the Singapore Red Cross to support impending humanitarian operations.