On Friday, March 4, the first group of over 400 Nigerians who fled Ukraine during the Russian invasion were flown back to Nigeria.
The students boarded a Max Air Flight VM602 from Bucharest, Romania’s capital, shortly after 06:30 GMT, one of the hubs from which African governments are scrambling to extract their residents.
“415 Nigerians, mostly students, fleeing the Ukraine-Russian war from Bucharest,” Nigerian foreign ministry spokesperson Gabriel Aduda tweeted late on Thursday. Many appeared fatigued but relieved after arriving in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital.
The action followed the president’s approval of a set-aside $8.5 million for the evacuation of Nigerians in the warring country. Air Peace and Max Air airlines has been hired to send three planes and run as many shifts as possible to help with the evacuation.
Before the war, there were around 5,600 Nigerian students and 8,000 Nigerian nationals in Ukraine, according to Minister of Foreign Affairs Geoffrey Onyeama.
On Monday, he claimed an anticipated 1,000 Romanians, 200 Slovakians, and 250 Hungarians and Poles were ready to be picked up.
However, in spite of the government’s efforts, many Nigerians, particularly students, are trapped in the war, particularly in the Sumy province, which has been purportedly overtaken by Russian soldiers, who have cut off power after blowing up a major power plant.
Access highways and bridges leading into and out of the province are either held by Russian military or have been blown up, preventing these pupils from leaving.
According to the UN, a million refugees have fled Ukraine so far, with millions more expected to depart unless the onslaught is stopped immediately.
Ghana became the first African country to return its citizens on Tuesday, returning home 17.
The federal government, according to Gabriel Aduda, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, has made the necessary measures to ensure that no Nigerian is left stranded in any of the countries where they have fled.
However, the permanent secretary urged those stuck in Ukraine’s neighboring countries who want to be evacuated to Nigeria to register for the process because only those who are documented with Nigerian embassies will be eligible for evacuation.
Source: The Guardian NG