People hold posters during a protest against Russia’s attack on Ukraine in front of Shinjuku station on February 26, 2022 in Tokyo, Japan.
Yuichi Yamazaki / Getty Images
- African countries scramble to help citizens trapped in Ukraine escape from the conflict-hit country.
- South Africa has reported that a group of citizens are stranded at the Ukrainian-Polish border.
- Nigeria has claimed unfair treatment.
Nigeria, South Africa and other African governments called on Monday to help their citizens escape the Russian invasion of Ukraine following reports of racist and unfair treatment of Africans at border crossings.
Africans in Ukraine, many of them students, are among hundreds of thousands of people trying to flee to Poland and other neighbors.
Nigeria on Monday called on border officials in Ukraine and elsewhere to treat its citizens equally.
“There have been unfortunate reports from Ukrainian police and security personnel refusing to allow Nigerians to board buses and trains to the Ukrainian-Polish border,” Presidential Adviser Garba Shehu said in a statement.
Shehu posted a video on social media where a Nigerian mother with a young baby was filmed and physically forced to give up her seat.
He said there were also reports of Polish officials rejecting Nigerian citizens in Poland from Ukraine.
“It is essential that everyone is treated with dignity and without favor,” Shehu said.
“Everyone who flees a conflict situation has the same right to safe passage under UN Convention and the color of their passport or skin would not make a difference.”
A group of South Africans, mostly students, were stranded on the Ukrainian-Polish border, said the country’s spokesman for the Foreign Ministry, Clayson Monyela, on Twitter.
The South African ambassador to Warsaw was on hand to visit them, according to Monyela, who said on Sunday that Africans had been “treated badly” along the Polish-Ukrainian border.
Polish Ambassador to Nigeria Joanna Tarnawska denied claims of dishonest treatment.
“Everyone is treated equally. I can assure you that I have reports that some Nigerian nationals have already crossed the border into Poland,” she told local media.
She said Nigerians could stay for 15 days. Even invalid documents were accepted to cross the border and Covid-19 restrictions were lifted, she added.
Some Nigerians crossing the border described horrific journeys in the dark to reach congested borders where they were made to wait as officials gave priority to Ukrainian women and children.
Stephanie Agekameh, a medical student now in Poland, said that officials at the Medyka border crossing first reacted to Ukrainians.
“One of the officials came and told us that it is more difficult for our foreigners because they have to get in touch with our government in different countries,” she said via text message.
Speaking of Korczowa in Poland, the Nigerian student of management science Agantem Moshe said that the Ukrainian police had pushed Africans out of the way to make room for women and children.
“From the Polish side it was smooth, they were professionals. In Ukraine, they kept us outside in the cold,” he said.
The UN said that more than half a million refugees from Ukraine have so far been transferred to neighboring countries.
The Embassy of Nigeria in Bucharest said it had received 130 Nigerians from Ukraine. Another 74 were counted in Budapest, where 200 more were expected on Monday, the Foreign Ministry said.
Another 52 had arrived in Warsaw and another 23 were processed.
“We assure the Nigerians that all hands are on the deck and arrangements are being made to evacuate our citizens effectively,” Nigerian official Gabriel Aduda said in a statement.
‘Priority for Ukrainians’
The Ghanaian government said on Tuesday it would meet with parents of students stranded in Ukraine and send embassy officials to border crossings to help.
DR Congo’s Foreign Minister Christophe Lutundula said on Twitter that he would meet with the Polish ambassador to help cross the border into some 200 Congolese, mostly students.
Côte d’Ivoire, which according to state media has 500 citizens in Ukraine, said it also made arrangements for its evacuation.
Kenya’s Foreign Ministry said last week that about 200 Kenyans were safe and secure, but that some were stuck at the Polish border due to visa restrictions.
Nigerian accountant Lukmon Busari was relieved that his son, a four-year medical student, was already out after waiting a day at the Polish border.
“Initially, they did not move because they gave priority to Ukrainians, women and children. Eventually, they left in Poland,” Busari told AFP by telephone.
“According to him, the Polish authorities did a wonderful job. He left on Thursday and arrived at the border on Thursday evening, and arrived in Poland on Friday.”
His son is currently resting in Poland before returning home.
“We see how we can cancel a flight for him to return to Nigeria.”
Nigeria claims unfair treatment if African countries strive to get citizens out of Ukraine
Source link Nigeria claims unfair treatment if African countries strive to get citizens out of Ukraine