Russia/Ukraine Conflict: First batch of trapped Nigerians set to return as Buhari approves evacuation

Two leading indigenous airlines have been engaged by the federal government to evacuate Nigerians who have found their ways into neighbouring countries of Ukraine back home following the ongoing invasion of the country by Russia. The first batch of evacuees will touch down in Nigeria today, Thursday.

The federal government through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Max Air and Air Peace will airlift the Nigerians from Hungry, Poland, Romania, and Slovakia.

Meanwhile, President Muhammadu Buhari has approved $8.5 million for the immediate evacuation of about 5,000 Nigerians displaced by the Russia-Ukrainian war, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Zubairu Dada, has said.

The Minister, who disclosed this while briefing State House correspondents at the end of the weekly Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting chaired by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo in Abuja, said the affected Nigerians would be evacuated from Poland, Romania, Hungary and Slovakia.

He said Air Peace and Max Air airlines have been contracted to provide three aircrafts and run as many shifts as possible to facilitate the evacuation.

Dada said those to be evacuated include 940 from Romania, 150 from Slovakia and 350 from Poland who have registered for evacuation.

“The Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs wrote a memo to the president seeking for funding to enable us conduct this exercise. The memo was in the tune of $8.5 million which Mr. President has graciously approved. That provision entails arrangement to evacuate not less than 5,000 Nigerians.

“Whatever happens, you can be rest assured that we are going to run any number of shifts that it will involve. Don’t forget it will also involve taking care of those Nigerians that may decide not to come back.

“It also includes some assistance for the feeding that may have been done by the missions under whatever arrangements. Even the missions themselves are also in dire situations. So it’s a whole gambit of activities that are involved,” he said.

Asked if the amount will be released immediately for the exercise, the minister said: “That is why the evacuation flights will begin today (Wednesday).”

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