Russia – Ukraine Crisis: Poland rejects fleeing Nigerians, FG laments

The Federal Government of Nigeria has expressed concern over Poland ‘s refusal to allow Nigerians fleeing Ukraine into the country.


The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, raised the concern on behalf of the government during a meeting with envoys of European Union countries over the Russia-Ukraine crisis.


Onyeama said the government is receiving emergency calls from Nigerians who are going by road, evacuating Ukraine and a lot of them heading to Poland.

Russia - Ukraine Crisis: Poland rejects fleeing Nigerians, FG laments
Russia – Ukraine Crisis: Poland rejects fleeing Nigerians, FG laments

He further said the government understood that Polish authorities are not letting Nigerians specifically through escaping the conflict in Ukraine.


“And we have had a number of calls, desperate calls and that there are cases of women and pregnant women and so forth,” Onyeama said.


Onyeama also said the government was informed that nationals of other African countries were being allowed into Poland.

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Onyeama disclosed that he raised the issue with the Polish Ambassador to Nigeria, Joanna Tarnawska, who assured him to immediately check with the capital and have the situation addressed.


He said, since Nigeria is preparing to host the President and First Lady of Poland, it seemed to the government as an aberration that a situation like that where people are fleeing a global crisis like what is taking place should be prevented from getting out to safety.


“So, we hope that also the European Union and others, and if that is indeed the case, will prevail on, not just necessarily Poland, but also any other border country to please share some sympathy and humanness to refugees fleeing this crisis, be they Nigerians or any other nationality,” Onyeama also said.

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Tarnawska, in her remarks, however said Poland is taking every necessary step to provide succour to those fleeing from Ukrain.


Earlier, the Head of the European Union Delegation to Nigeria and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Samuela Isopi, who led the delegation, said the meeting justified the importance that the EU attached to the issue of the Russia-Ukraine crisis.


Isopi told Onyeama that the European Union is ready to assist Ukraine with help, including financial and humanitarian assistance.

Also, the FGN, Friday, summoned the Ambassadors of Russia and Ukraine to Nigeria, Alexei Shebarshin and Kirdoda Valerii respectively over the evacuation of Nigerians from both countries.

Russia - Ukraine Crisis: Poland rejects fleeing Nigerians, FG laments
Russia – Ukraine Crisis: Poland rejects fleeing Nigerians, FG laments

The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, who met with the envoys separately behind closed doors, disclosed that during his meeting with the Russian envoy, he told Shebarshin that the Government of Nigeria could not condone as a country, the violation of the territorial integrity of a United Nations member state, a country with which Nigeria has diplomatic relations.


Onyeama also told Shebarshin that Nigeria urged Russia to revert to the status quo before the military action and to prioritise diplomacy and dialogue.


“This is really the position of the government. And also, that we have 5600 Nigerians in Ukraine and we are very concerned about what we are hearing and what we are seeing regarding missiles and bombs about the safety of our Nigerian citizens there, that we would like to be able to evacuate them.


“This would be communicated to his headquarters and that obviously, they consider Nigeria a friendly country and Nigerians; and that they would do nothing to harm Nigerians and assured me that their action is targeted at military installations and that they are not about to start attacking civilian areas and so forth,” Onyeama said.


Onyeama disclosed that he also discussed with the Russian envoy about the practicalities of how Nigeria can get her citizens out of Ukraine, those who want to leave the country and what measures they could do as they are moving in, to facilitate and help and to safeguard Nigerians in Ukraine.


Onyeama added that the Russian envoy insisted that civilians are not being targeted and that hopefully, it won’t last long.


Asked about the issue of the evacuation of Nigerians in Ukraine, Onyeama said the issue can only come up when the airports open.

Onyeama also said the Russian envoy stated that they would also see some airports as military targets possibly.


Onyeama further said they discussed road travel to facilitate the evacuation, even though some Nigerians have been able to get into neighbouring countries such as Holland.

Russia - Ukraine Crisis: Poland rejects fleeing Nigerians, FG laments
Russia – Ukraine Crisis: Poland rejects fleeing Nigerians, FG laments

The Russian envoy however told Onyeama that there might be risk involved, while also saying that Russia was mindful of the civilians from foreign countries and that they would take all the necessary measures to ensure their security.


“He was a lot more sanguine, optimistic that no harm will come to them, but we cannot take any risks,” Onyeama stated.


Speaking after his meeting with the Ukrainian envoy, Onyeama said the government sympathized with Ukraine regarding their situation as a country and as a people, which is under heavy bombardment, which has led to loss of lives.


Onyeama said he also pointed out that Ukraine is a country that Nigeria has diplomatic relations, a member of the United Nations and cannot condone the violation of their sovereignty and territorial integrity.


He also told the Ukrainian envoy that Nigeria has over 5000 students and citizens in the country and very concerned about their safety and welfare.


“And we certainly want the cooperation of the Government of Ukraine to do whatever is possible to ensure their safety and security and to also seek advice as to how the evacuation can be facilitated,” Onyeama further said.


Onyeama also said the envoy pointed out that the Ukrainian government has given all the residents and civilians, specific instructions about how to stay safe and the measures to take.


Onyeama added that the Nigerian Embassy in Ukraine will also act as a coordinating mechanism in reaching out to all Nigerians in Ukraine and ensure that they adhere to all the advice and directives.


On his part, the Ukrainian envoy expressed gratitude to the Government and people of Nigeria for their support.


“Right now, we are in a very difficult situation, but we are fighting against the aggression and we believe that we will all win,” the Ukrainian envoy said.


Valerii also said Nigerian students in Ukraine were in the same situation as anybody else on the territory of Ukraine.

“Ukrainian Government does not differentiate between people on the basis of their nationality and that is the best effort to protect everybody.


“Currently, the evacuation of Nigerian students is not possible because it is not safe to fly on the sky of Ukraine. As soon as it is safe to fly on the sky of Ukraine, we will join the Embassy of Nigeria in Ukraine and jointly with the Nigerian Government, we will arrange for the evacuation of Nigerian Students,” the Ukrainian envoy also said.


Meanwhile, the First Lady of Nigeria, Mrs Aisha Buhari, has joined Nigerian parents in prayers and solidarity for the safe evacuation of their children and Nigerian students trapped in the troubled nation of Ukraine.


She expressed her position on Friday on her social media in Abuja. She however commended the Federal Government’s directive on the evacuation of 5,600 Nigerian students trapped in Ukraine.


”In view of the state of heightened insecurity in Ukraine, I stand with all Nigerian parents in praying for global peace and human solidarity.


”I commend the directives of the federal government and the House of Representatives for the evacuation of our more than 5,600 students trapped in the conflict,” she stated.

Mrs Buhari however appealed to Nigeria’s Foreign Affairs Ministry to handle the situation as quickly as possible.

Russia - Ukraine Crisis: Aisha Buhari
Russia – Ukraine Crisis: Poland rejects fleeing Nigerians, FG laments

”The Minister of Foreign Affairs should treat this matter as an emergency, while our citizens should stay calm, comply with safety procedures and avoid self-help in order to avoid the mischief of human traffickers,” she said.


Also, the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), on Friday, urged the Federal Government to provide adequate cover for Nigerians caught in the military conflict between Russia and Ukraine.


The Chairman of CAN’s Youth Wing (YOWICAN), Belusochukwu Enwere, in a statement titled, ‘Between Russia and Ukraine: Nothing must happen to Nigerians’, urged the authorities to do everything within their power to evacuate Nigerians, especially the youths from the war-ridden nations.


While condemning the ongoing war, the religious body described the war as “dangerous, expensive, disastrous and life consuming” and warned that the two European nations could have themselves to blame, especially if citizens of other nations resident within their borders suffer collateral damages.


Enwere said, “The attention of the Youth Wing Christian Association of Nigeria (YOWICAN) has been drawn to the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine. This is not the best for these two countries because many citizens of other countries are residents in their territories, both students and those looking for greener pastures. It is therefore a case of when two elephants fight, the grasses suffer for it.


“War is dangerous, expensive, disastrous and life consuming. No nation should ever think of war. Nothing must happen to Nigerians in Ukraine and Russia. If anything happens to any Nigerian citizen in Russia and Ukraine, both countries must have themselves to blame. We’ll use everything at our disposal to, within the diplomatic community, get back. A word is enough for the wise.


“The Federal Government should do everything within its power to evacuate our citizens, especially our youths from these war-ridden countries.

There are a lot of Nigerians out there studying, doing businesses and lots of things to earn a living. The Nigerian government should act fast so as to bring our citizens back alive. There is no time for procrastination. This is the time for action, and a time to show love to our citizens in both countries. We are one indivisible entity, no matter where you reside.


“We’re not predicting Third World War; but the United Nations, the EU and other relevant authorities should ensure there is an end to this war before it will escalate to an uncontrollable one. Other world leaders should stop siding either Ukraine or Russia, but work on finding a panacea to this war.


“The world leaders, Christians and Muslims, young and old must join hands together in prayers and condemn this war going on at the moment. This is not a time for the blame game, but time to show action and love in making sure that peace returns to both countries.”

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