Federal government has declared custody of some 479 Nigerians struggling to find their way home from the war ravaged Ukrainian cities following the invasion of the country by neighbouring Russia and worsening humanitarian situation in the country where military gun fights take the streets.
The fleeing Nigerians are returning from Poland, Hungary and Romania where consular personnel are said to be processing their movement back home after harrowing experience in crossing into safety from Ukraine where Russian forces are battling to topple the government.
The number of evacuees expected to arrive home, according to Ministry of Foreign Affairs, is a significant fraction of over 4000 Nigerians who were in Ukraine when the war broke out and who remain to be accounted for until they reach Nigerian embassies outside Ukraine.
More than 500,000 Ukrainians have fled their country to neighbouring European countries while a few thousand Africans, mostly students, find it difficult to find transport to borders and cross to other European countries.
There have also been numerous reports of Ukrainian security officials preventing Africans from catching buses and trains going to the border, prompting President Muhammadu Buhari to direct deployment of measures account for 4,000 Nigerians, mostly students, currently in Ukraine.
In a reported Tweet, President Buhari declared that “all who flee a conflict situation have the same right to safe passage under the UN Convention, and the colour of their passport or their skin should make no difference.”
President Buhari’s remarks followed complaints by mostly Africans that white refugees were given preferential access to transport and border passage also seeking to cross into safety.
In response to the plight of the refuge seekers, two ladies Tokunbo Koiki and Patricia Daley have galvanized financial aid to those in need of cash. And using PayPal, the ladies raised significant £24,000 to assist African and Caribbean refugees pay their fares out of Ukraine.
Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geofrey Onyeama, said he secured assurances from his Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba that Ukrainian border guards would allow all foreigners leaving Ukraine to pass without restrictions.
Permanent Secretary of Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Gabriel Aduda, said the Nigerians fleeing Ukraine were subsequently received in Poland, Romania and Hungary.
Out of the full number, he said the Nigerian embassy in Romania is hosting some 130 refugees in Bucharest. He said another 274 were hosted in Budapest, Hungary; and another 75 in Poland.
Ambassador Aduda said all the refugees are in good custody and provided with all means of life and comfort while their movement home was being processed.