Hundreds of Nigerian citizens have been evacuated from Romania and Poland after fleeing the war in neighboring Ukraine. Those without passports were issued emergency travel documents, according to the Nigerian foreign ministry.
Evacuation flights took off from Bucharest and Warsaw on Thursday (March 3) to return home more than 500 Nigerian citizens. The flights were coordinated by the Nigerian foreign ministry to bring to safety those fleeing the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
According to TVC News Nigeria, 159 citizens boarded the flight from Warsaw, Poland. The flight from the Romanian capital Bucharest brought home 415 people, according to the Nigerian foreign ministry on Twitter. The group reportedly arrived at Abuja airport on Friday, March 4.
More than 2,000 Nigerian nationals who fled to Ukraine’s neighboring countries have been documented by the foreign ministry, CNN reported earlier on Monday. Some 650 Nigerian nationals were received by the embassy in Hungary and another 350 in Poland, the ministry said, also according to CNN. Another 940 were received in Romania, and 150 arrived via Slovakia where they were processed for return back to their country.
"We assure Nigerians that we are working round the clock to bring our citizens back home safely," a ministry statement said. Thursday's flights returned the "first batch" of those willing to return, it added.
Information for stranded citizens
Ukraine has closed its airspace to civilian flights, including from Kyiv airport. Evacuation flights to Nigeria are leaving from Hungary, Poland and Rumania.
In a press release, the foreign ministry said that "only persons documented with the Nigerian embassies be will eligible for evacuation. Consequently, those yet to register for the exercise are advised to do so, as it is a mandatory requirement.
"Those without passports will be issued Emergency Travel Certificates (ETC) to enable them to travel back home,” the statement said further.
The foreign ministry's permanent secretary Gabriel Aduda posted contact numbers on Twitter for consular helplines: : +234 916 084 7498, +234 701 088 2907
Foreigners, including Nigerian and Indian students, have complained of unequal treatment and racism amid the mass exodus since the invasion of Ukraine. They say they have had problems getting onto buses or trains heading to Ukraine's borders because they were black; others were reportedly held up at border crossings.
"There is a lot of discrimination going on there," Joseph, a computer engineering student, told DW. "We actually had to beg people to take us to the border so we could find a way to escape."
Reports of racism against African citizens sparked global outrage with African nations -- representatives from Kenya, Ghana, and Gabon all condemned reports of discrimination against African citizens at a UN Security Council meeting in New York on Monday.
"The mistreatment of African peoples on Europe's borders needs to cease immediately, whether to the Africans fleeing Ukraine or to those crossing the Mediterranean," Kenyan Ambassador to the UN Martin Kimani said.
Ukraine's foreign minister, Dmytro Kuleba, said Wednesday that Africans and other non-Ukrainians attempting to flee the country should "have equal opportunities to return to their home countries safely."
There are more than 75,000 foreigners studying in Ukraine, nearly a quarter of whom are African — with the largest numbers coming from Morocco, Egypt, Nigeria and Ghana.