Ukraine: Treat Africans with dignity, Nigerian government appeals

The Federal Government of Nigeria has called on Ukraine and Poland to treat Nigerians and other Africans stranded in Ukraine with dignity.

While efforts to begin talks between Russia and Ukraine were underway, “paramount on our minds is the safety and human rights of some four thousand Nigerian citizens and many others from friendly African nations today stranded in Ukraine,” a presidential spokesman, Garba Shehu, said in a statement issued on Sunday.

Shehu said from video evidence and first-hand accounts of Nigerian diplomats, there had been unfortunate reports of Ukrainian police and security personnel refusing to allow Nigerians to board buses and trains heading towards the Ukraine-Poland border.

“One group of Nigerian students having been repeatedly refused entry into Poland have concluded they have no choice but to travel again across Ukraine and attempt to exit the country via the border with Hungary,” Shehu said.

“We understand the pain and fear that is confronting all people who find themselves in this terrifying place.

“We also appreciate that those in official positions in security and border management will in most cases be experiencing impossible expectations in a situation they never expected.

“But for that reason, it is paramount that everyone is treated with dignity and without favour.

“All who flee a conflict situation have the same right to safe passage under UN Convention and the colour of their passport or their skin should make no difference.”

Meanwhile Nigeria has announced that Hungary and Romania had approved visa-free access to all its citizens fleeing Ukraine.

The Ministry of Foreign affairs disclosed this in a statement on Sunday, while advising Nigerians leaving Ukraine to move to the Hungarian or Romanian borders for easy access.

“For now, movement to the Hungarian Zahony border and Romanian Suceava, Tulcea, Satu Mare County & Maramures borders is advised, as they have approved visa-free access to all Nigerians coming from Ukraine and arrangements for accommodation and feeding before evacuation is arranged,” Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Gabriel Aduda, said in the statement.

Aduda also noted that the government is fully aware of all the challenges being faced by Nigerians in Ukraine and is doing all it can to ease their pain.

“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is fully abreast of all the challenges Nigerians crossing into countries bordering Ukraine, especially the Polish border, are facing and we are taking adequate measures to assuage these challenges.

“The Honourable Minister of Foreign Affairs has spoken with his counterpart, the Foreign Minister of Ukraine on these unsavoury developments and both are working on alleviating the suffering of Nigerians including deploying the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) to the border to ensure easier access to all Nigerians and other nationals,” the statement read.

Thousands of Nigerians and other Africans are still in Ukraine as efforts are being made by their governments to evacuate them.

Kola Tella

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