The first batch of evacuees from Ukraine made their way back to Nigeria early on Friday. A total of 411 Nigerians inclusive of students and consular staff arrived at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja aboard a Max Air Evacuation flight from the Romanian capital Bucharest.
The process to bring stranded Nigerians back home got a big boost when the federal government approved $8.5 million for the immediate evacuation. The money was earmarked for the evacuation of 5,000 Nigerians, many of whom were students.
Looking tired, the evacuees told scary stories of their experiences before they were lucky to make it back home with many of their belongings.
According to some of them who spoke on condition of anonymity, Black and Brown foreigners were taken aback by the racist attitude of Ukrainians who are currently enjoying tremendous financial and moral support from all over the world.
The discrimination from Ukrainians came to its crescendo at the border where many foreigners were trying to make their way out of the country.
According to the evacuees, immigration officials gave preference to fleeing Ukrainians to the detriment of other nationalities, particularly Africans.
The issue of visas was another problem for Nigerians. This, they said initially delayed their entry into Romania, before it was later resolved that Nigerians be allowed a grace period of five days, where visas wouldn’t be required. Within this five-day grace period, the expectation was that the non-Europeans would be evacuated and that’s happening for Nigerians.
Most of the evacuees complained of being tired, because of the long walk to the Ukraine border and the hours it took them to get their immigration documentation cleared.
Meanwhile, Timescape Magazine understands that the medical students among the evacuees, most of whom were in their final years, have been assured by officials of the Nigerian government that they would be assisted to complete their studies.
The returnees were each given $100 (56, 000 Nigerian naira) by the government upon arrival at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja. They were received by Edward Adedokun, Director of Search and Rescue of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), officials of the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NiDCOM), and the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA).
President Vladimir Putin ordered Russian forces to attack Ukraine last week Thursday in what he described as a ‘special military operation’ that has led to the fleeing of at least one million people from the country.
The United Nations has warned of the consequences of the invasion, saying that “at this rate” the exodus could become “the biggest refugee crisis in this century.”
The second batch of Nigerians fleeing the war in Ukraine arrived in the country late night Friday. Many more are expected to be flown in, in the days ahead.