Amid the continued invasion of Ukraine by the Russian military on the orders of Russian President Vladimir Putin, the federal government has directed Nigerians fleeing Ukraine to four Polish borders for safety.
Some officials at the Nigerian Embassy in Poland, Warsaw, have confirmed Sunday punch that more than 100 Nigerians had crossed the Polish border.
The Chief Executive Officer of the Commission for Nigerians in Diaspora, Abike Dabiri-Erewa, said in a viral video on Saturday that out of the eight borders between Poland and Ukraine, four have been recommended for Nigerians.
She also advised Nigerians to travel in groups so that they can be aware of each other in the journey to the border. She asked those in eastern Ukraine to try to get closer to the border, especially from western Ukraine, by train or bus.
She warned that heading for the border could come with its own dangers, but it was important that affected Nigerians keep their passports and student visas when using the roads to the border.
Dabiri-Erewa added, “For Nigerians in Ukraine trying to cross into Poland, there are eight borders between Poland and Ukraine, four borders are recommended; these are the four borders: Hrebenne – Rava Ruska; Korczowa–Krakovets; Medyka–Shehyni; Budomierz – Hurszew.
She pointed out that groups of Nigerian volunteers as well as Nigerian embassy staff would be at the borders to assist them. She noted that Nigerians in areas of Ukraine not directly affected by the invasion should stay where they are, adding that the commission’s website has all the relevant information, including phone numbers. to call.
In the notice she posted, she said: “Students should make every effort to get to the Ukrainian-Polish or Ukrainian-Romanian border. It is essential that students travel in groups. There is power in numbers. Groups should make sure they are safe and taken care of. Students from eastern Ukraine should do their best to reach a city in western Ukraine. The closer you are to the border, the better.
“When going to the border, you have the choice between the train or the bus. Both routes have risk factors. Trains from Lviv to the Polish border are free. However, many people try this route. Do not Don’t be discouraged but do your best to get on the right train. Coaches/buses from Lviv can take you to Poland. You will need to have all your documents with you. Please continue to stay in a group. Keep your passports and your visa. student on you at all times.
Similarly, a public notice from the Nigerian Embassy in Warsaw, Poland assured Nigerians that the government has made necessary arrangements with the Polish government to facilitate the admission of Nigerians to Poland.
Nigeria’s Ambassador to Poland Christian Ugwu said, “Embassy staff and volunteers are stationed at the Polish-Ukrainian border along with buses and vans to pick up Nigerians at border points.”
Some embassy officials told one of our correspondents on Saturday evening that the embassy was in the process of moving Nigerians from the borders to the Polish capital.
An official said: “What we are currently working on is getting Nigerians from the overcrowded borders to safety in Warsaw. Too many people are moving into the country from Ukraine, including Nigerians and other nationalities.
Another credible source at the Nigerian Embassy in Warsaw said that although he could not determine the total number of Nigerians who had moved from Ukraine to Poland, estimates showed that there had over 100.
He added, “We cannot determine the total number of Nigerians who have entered Poland from Ukraine at this time, however, from our observations, we could infer that there are hundreds of them scattered around. across the various borders between Poland and Ukraine”.
Meanwhile, in addition to the efforts made by the Federal Government on the issue, officials of the Organization of Nigerians in Diaspora, Poland have also noted that as many as 100 Nigerians have crossed Polish borders.
NIDOP Chairman Dr. Tade Omotosho said the organization was working closely with the Federal Government to accommodate Nigerians who had successfully crossed the border.
He said in a brief telephone interview with one of our correspondents that the government had reached an agreement allowing Nigerians from Ukraine access to Poland.
He added, “As I speak to you, I have about 20 (Nigerians) in my house. By my count, there are still 20 that I know of but there are still more. It’s tense, it’s difficult, but we ensure that every Nigerian seeking solace is taken care of.
“Nigerians in Poland have been very helpful. The Nigerian government was helpful, but in my opinion the response was quite late. Passports were stamped at the border; I believe they were allowed in for humanitarian reasons. We are also discussing with lawyers to have them legalized (stay) in Poland.
A NIDOP official, Frank Okonkwo, also noted that more than 100 Nigerians crossed the Polish border.
He said: “This is a real war, we are doing our best to help our people stuck in Ukraine to be able to get out to Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Moldova. I especially advise them to try other countries instead of Poland because the border of the country (Poland) is saturated at the moment. We have over 150,000 refugees, including Nigerians and other nationalities.
“I could say tentatively that more than 100 or more people were able to cross (into Poland), but some people don’t stay very close to the border. Most of them struggle to find their way to the border. Many of them are still in Kyiv and are wondering how they will get to the border. It is relevant that they use their Google map. The bombardments become too many, otherwise they would be blocked in the city.
He called on the federal government to help stranded citizens book a hotel before they can get a connecting flight to Nigeria.
An executive member of NIDOP, who identified himself as Remi, also pointed out that the fleeing Nigerians should make efforts to cross over from the Ukrainian side to Poland before NIDOP can pick them up.
He noted that there was no form of racial discrimination from Ukrainian immigration, as all Africans were allowed to pass.
He added: “They weren’t focusing on ethnicity. We found out that at noon they started prioritizing women and children, which is normal in a crisis like this. Children 16 and under are permitted to pass.
He noted that NIDOP had made accommodation and food arrangements and those who passed through Poland would be accommodated for two days, after which they should be on their way to Lagos.
In its response to the crisis, the Foreign Ministry said on Saturday that Nigerians stranded in Ukraine would be evacuated through the embassy in Warsaw, Poland.
It was earlier reported that the Speaker of the House of Representatives had hired a private airline, Air Peace, to help evacuate stranded students from Ukraine.
A high-rise building was hit by a missile overnight in Kyiv as fighting raged between Russian attackers and Ukrainian forces, officials said on Saturday.
Emergency services said the death toll was “being cleared up” and an evacuation was underway.
Polish Deputy Interior Minister Pawel Szefernaker said 100,000 people had crossed the Polish border from Ukraine.
However, Ukrainian Health Minister Viktor Lyashko said 198 people, including three children, had died since the Russian invasion of the country on Thursday February 24, adding that 1,115 people, including 33 children, had been injured.
Citizens on the run allege racism at bus and train stations
Meanwhile, some of the fugitive Nigerians and their relatives who spoke Sunday punch alleged racism and seizure of passports by Ukrainians also trying to flee.
Foreign Minister Geoffery Onyeama had said that while the country was concerned about the safety of the 5,600 Nigerians in Ukraine, rescuing them amid Russian aggression could be risky. He added that the Ukrainian ambassador to Nigeria, Kirdoda Valerii, had assured him that there was no discrimination between Ukrainians and foreigners in security measures.
But some Nigerians on the run in separate interviews with our correspondent on Saturday said otherwise. One, who preferred to be identified as Omotoyinbo, said he found it difficult to board a bus en route to the border because children, women, Ukrainians and other whites were given priority.
“Actually, it was not easy. Imagine having to fight racism during a war. My friends and I were trying to board a bus because the driver of the car we originally rented said he couldn’t get to the borders. The first bus we tried to board; we were told that children and women were given priority until we saw white people entering and we black people were left behind.
“Things are getting intense and everyone is trying to escape. This is the time when humanity should prevail but we can’t even get out of here because of racism. Some Nigerians in Poland have contacted us but we have to get out of here first.
Another affected person, Blessing Inyang, said: “I’m stuck at Lviv train station right now.
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