Nigerian students in Ukraine are being subjected to a tormenting reality following the Russian invasion of Ukraine on Thursday.
In a series of tweets, the students have detailed their painful experiences, ranging from trekking long distances to escape the situation at hand, to experiencing racism in the face of danger.
Many Nigerians walked between 14 and 25 kilometres to seek refuge in Poland. But despite trekking for hours, Poland refused them entry.
Kachi_Nate, a Twitter user, said his friend in Ukraine could not enter Poland because she’s black.
“She just told me they’re not letting any Black into Poland without a visa. These are students who are legally in Ukraine. They didn’t even check their documents; just turned them back,” he said.
“We spoke on a call. She said they turned all blacks without a visa back. As long as you don’t have a visa to Poland, you can’t enter. Also, they didn’t check any other document to confirm their status as international students. She’s walking 3-4 hours back to Lviv.”
On Thursday, Ukraine’s interior ministry said men between the ages of 18 and 60 are banned from leaving the country. Nigerians are protesting this order by heading to Poland.
Reacting, a Nigerian said, “Nigerians living in Ukraine shouldn’t be mandated to fight or partake in a war they do not understand. There’s a reason they left in the first place. Why are they being turned back from entering Poland?”
Some angry parents blamed the inability of Nigerian students to enter Poland on the federal government.
“Parents are claiming the Nigerian Embassy in Poland should have informed the government there so they could approve the arrival of Nigerians. They’re taking Ukrainians in and, I think, Indians too, because the Indian Embassy in Poland said so,” a Twitter user said.
Others say they are still subjected to racism. Nzekiev, a Twitter user, said when the train to Poland got to where he was, he and two other Africans entered first. But a few minutes later, the police came in and dragged them down from their cabin, as only Ukrainians were allowed.
“I don’t blame them, though. I blame African leaders,” he said. “In the train stations here in Kyiv, children first, women second, white men third, and the remaining space is occupied by Africans. This means that we have waited many hours for trains here and couldn’t enter because of this. Majority of Africans are still waiting to get to Lviv.”
On Thursday, the Russian military launched an offensive against Ukraine with land support from Belarus.
This came minutes after Russian President Vladimir Putin declared war on Ukraine, claiming Russia was invited by the Donbas People’s Republic.
Following this development, the House of Representatives of the Federal Republic of Nigeria promised to help Nigerian students in Ukraine.
In a tweet on Thursday, they offered “to shoulder the immediate evacuation of Nigerian students from Ukraine”.
The House of Representatives said the committee on the Nigerian Ministry of Foreign Affairs would jet out to Ukraine on Friday.
However, over 24 hours after the federal government said they would help, students are still stuck in the web of the Russian-Ukraine war.
It is estimated that over 4,000 Nigerian students are in Ukraine, making them the second most populated group of international students in the country.
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