FG plans to evacuate Nigerians from Ukraine

After initially issuing a statement telling Nigerians in Ukraine to protect themselves, the Federal Government on Thursday disclosed evacuation plans for Nigerians who wish to leave amid the escalating crisis in the country.

Russian President Vladimir Putin had announced a military operation in Ukraine on Thursday with explosions heard soon after across the country and its foreign minister warning a “full-scale invasion” was underway.

Nigeria’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Geoffrey Onyeama, revealed the plans in an exclusive interview with the Nigerian Television Authority, NTA.

He said while FG agreed that all Nigerians should stay calm following a state of emergency in Ukraine amid Russian conflict, it would closely observe the reopening of airports in the country so as to evacuate Nigerians.

“The Federal Government of Nigeria has received with surprise, reports of the invasion of Ukraine by Russia,” a statement signed by Ministry spokesperson Francisca Omayuli said.

“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has been reassured by the Nigerian Embassy in Ukraine of the safety of Nigerians in that country and measures being undertaken to keep them safe and facilitate the evacuation of those who wish to leave.

“The Federal Government wishes to assure the families with loved ones in Ukraine that as soon as the airports in the country are opened, it would assist in facilitating the evacuation of Nigerians who are willing to leave.

“There are five airports and so we are now planning on how to get those who want to leave to the airport nearest where they are staying and helping assisting for them to evacuate to leave the country.”

Onyeama said it was very difficult for the Nigerian government to take a definite position at the time( as at last two weeks) because Russia was saying it will not invade while the United States were predicting a likely attack.

As the crisis between Russia and Ukraine unfolds, Nigerians living in Ukraine had been earlier directed to protect themselves or make “private arrangements” for ” temporary relocation to anywhere.”

The message is contained in a fresh travel advisory by the Embassy of Nigeria, Ukraine disclosed on the twitter page of the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NidCOM) on Thursday.

Many countries have made plans for temporary relocation of nationals away from the country, with the United States asking citizens to travel to Poland or shelter for in underground bunkers.

But the message by the Nigerian embassy says,

“In view of the development , the embassy urges Nigerian nationals resident in Ukraine to remain calm but be very vigilant and be responsible for their personal security and safety.

“The Embassy wishes to add that should any Nigerian nationals considers the situation as emotionally disturbing, such nationals may wish to temporarily relocate to anywhere considered safe by private arrangements. They should, however, ensure that they do all the needful to validate all their resident documents for ease of return to the country when desired, the embassy stated assuring of its continuous consular services.

Last week, several countries urged its citizens to leave Ukraine following a likely attack by Russian government which recently gave sovereignty to two separatist republics.

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