Safety: Nigerian students, others stranded in Ukraine amid Russian attacks  – ConsumerConnect

Emotions ran high on Friday night at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja when  young Nigerians, who were evacuated from Ukraine by the Federal Government, reunited with their parents and guardians.

Parents and the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Sadiya Umar Farouq, were excited as 181 youths, who were among the over 4,000 Nigerian students in the war-torn European nation, arrived the nation’s capital.

Other government functionaries led by the Humanitarian Affairs Minister and the parents were jubilant the more when some of the returnees disclosed how they faced daunting situations in Ukraine, overcame their fears, and experienced the best of Nigeria could offer its own people who are stranded in another man’s land.

Oriaku Faith Emmanuela, one of the returnee students, said she survived through divine intervention.

She said, “My biggest fear while in Ukraine had to do with me running for life in another man’s land. To make matters worse for me, I am not familiar with the country, because I am new in Europe. I just came, so I knew nowhere.

“One afternoon, we were just in the hostel and sudden started hearing rancorous noise. I was taking a nap around 1:00pm when it all started. When I snapped out of it, I heard other students chattering. So, I asked what the problem was. Then, I was told that five Ukrainian cities were bombed.

“I was so scared. Firstly, the thought of my parents at home back in Nigeria possessed me. How will my mother be feeling? Where do I run to? I was so terrified. That is the worst experience I have had in my life. I had to trek for days just to get to Poland’s border. In a day, I could trek for five hours yet getting nowhere.

“I got to point where I just broke down, sat down on the street and started crying. All my friends deserted me. They left on a bus. I was trying to bring a friend’s bag and she left before me with my Nigerian passport and other important personal documents.

“I was so stranded and had to cry in the streets, but a white guy just came and I explained to him that I was no longer with my bag, my passport, and no money at all. He now asked me to hop into his car with a promise to take me to wherever I am going to, and so I just gave up my fears. I was determined to face anything even the worst.    “We were on the road for about two days before we got to Poland’s border, but he was stopped from leaving Ukraine, because he age fell within the 18-60 years range. So, I had to part with him, and my fears tried to set in again. I can’t explain how I felt at that moment.”

Faith-Emmanuel, however, said she experienced another divine intervention when a military personnel arrived at the scene while the feeling of despondency was about kicking in.

“Lucky enough, I met a military personnel who helped me get a bus that took me where I found other Nigerians. I had no stress in Poland. We just waited for about 30mins before a train arrived and we boarded to Warsaw. The Federal Government came through for us. Everything was well taken care of,” she added.

One after the other, the returnees took turn to share their experiences with the journalists and thanked President Muhammadu Buhari and all Nigerians for their efforts and prayers towards their successful evacuation from Ukraine.

Another returned, Khumaira Awaisu, a fourth year medical student in Dnipro, Ukraine, said: “We had some fears that we could lose our lives in Ukraine and won’t meet our families again, because of the bombings. For sure, there were cases of racial discrimination here and there, but from my side of experience, there was nothing of such.

“Later on, after we departed from Ukraine to Poland. Our situation was no longer bad, because from my side of experience, the Ukrainians also helped us a lot.

“The Federal Government provided us with hotel accommodation and food in Warsaw. We got almost everything – flight tickets, train and bus rides – for free.”

Similarly, Ajayi Ireoluwa Adeyemi, who was a victim of racial discrimination during the confusion in Ukraine, and Hafsat Tasiu-Ilu, a final year medical student in the European country, noted the Federal Government’s efforts   towards ensuring their rescue.

While Ajayi recalled, “I experienced racism and so many violent encounters with people, but one thing I must admit is that Nigeria came through for us. We are very proud that the Federal Government exceeded our expectations,” Hafsat disclosed, “We were on the from Dnipro to Lviv; then to Krakow another state in Poland, before Warsaw which is the Polish capital. All these trips were free of charge. We thank the Nigerian government. We really appreciate the Federal Government’s efforts”

The Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Sadiya Umar Farouq, said the evacuation of the stranded youths from a nation whose sovereignty was greatly threatened   was “historic” and that Nigerians at home and in the Diaspora were happy about the development.

She said contrary to the views of some Nigerians, President Muhammadu Buhari was greatly troubled by the situation of Nigerians in Ukraine and has stopped at nothing to make sure their return to the country was successful in all ramifications.

“Mr. President gave the necessary approval for the immediate evacuation of Nigerians from all conflict areas. He also gave clear directives that all necessary machinery should be in place to ensure the safe return of our citizens.  Even the money spent for the evacuation exercise came about, because he directed that needed resources should be made available,” Farouq said.

The Minister thereafter called on all stranded Nigerians in Ukraine to be guided, at all times, by the advisories regularly issued by the Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Also, Mr. Philip Ogunsakin, whose two daughters and grandson were among the second batch returnees whose flight arrived from Poland, thanked the President for the evacuation of the girls, saying that he had lost hope of seeing his children again.

According to the overjoyed man, his daughters had lived in Ukraine for nearly 10 years. At first, as students, before they secured good jobs in the country after they graduated in flying colours.

Ogunsakin explained that one of them also got married and had a son in the European country who was also evacuated alongside his mother and aunty.

He said, “Unlike the others, Temitope and Funmilayo had already finished their undergraduate studies. One of them is a communication expert while the other one worked at the US Embassy in Ukraine.

“So, my family was initially disturbed by the unfortunate development in Ukraine, but I’m just grateful to God and the government for returning my daughters and grandchild to me safely, words cannot describe how I feel at the moment.”

Another parent, Mrs Adejare, broke down in tears and tightly hugged her son, Ola, while wiping away her own tears.

Adejare was full of praises for President Buhari and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for their efforts in evacuating her son from the troubled nation.

“We are grateful to Buhari and all Nigerians for supporting us and ensuring the return of our children. We hope the other Nigerians still in Ukraine are evacuated as soon as possible, so that their parents will have the opportunity to be as happy as we are today,” she said.


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