Protesters March in Abuja Over Stranded Students In Ukraine

Parents, relatives, and friends of Nigerian students stranded in Ukraine expressed their displeasure outside the Russian Embassy in Abuja on Monday, demanding peace in Ukraine and the quick departure of their wards

“We need peace because of our children. We don’t want our children there or our sisters or our brothers to go there and perish. We want them to stay in peace and come back to Nigeria in peace,” said protester Blessing Keri, whose relative is studying in Ukraine.

Over 5000 students who were in Ukraine when the crisis began, have been unable to flee the country since Russian military invaded Ukraine last week. All airport and train services have also been shut down.

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Reports indicate that some Nigerians have joined the on-foot flow of migrants fleeing Ukraine into Poland and Romania.

This is coming amid reports that Africans are being blocked from entering Poland while Ukrainians are allowed to cross the border.

Meanwhile, Geoffrey Onyeama, Nigeria’s minister of foreign affairs, said the Government is making plans to evacuate Nigerian students and nationals willing to leave.

“Our people are dispersed all over the country, so it has to be something that’s well organized, getting people to go to the closest airports to where they are,” he said.

The ministry Sunday said some 256 Nigerians have safely passed into Poland.

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According to government data, 4,000 Nigerians are enrolled in higher institutions across Ukraine, making Nigeria, along with Morocco, the country with the biggest number of African nationals.

Last Friday, the Ukrainian Ambassador to Nigeria, Kirdoda Valerii, warned that efforts to evacuate Nigerian students and citizens currently in his country were currently not feasible due to the closure of Ukrainian airspace. Valirii made the remarks following a meeting with Nigeria’s Foreign Minister, Geoffrey Onyeama, in Abuja.

Speaking on reports of Nigerians being drafted into the country’s armed forces in exchange for citizenship, the envoy, who spoke through an interpreter, said it is an open option. 

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