Russia-Ukraine conflict: Pres Buhari approves US$8.5 million to evacuate 5,000 Nigerians from Ukraine

ABUJA— President Muhammadu Buhari has approved $8.5 million for the immediate evacuation of about 5,000 Nigerians caught in the Russia – Ukraine war.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that majority of the affected Nigerian citizens are currently taking refuge in Poland, Romania, Hungary and Slovakia.

The Minister of State for Foreign Affairs of Nigeria, Zubairu Dada, alongside the Humanitarian Minister, Sadiya Farouk, made this known to State House correspondents at the end of the virtual meeting of the Federal Executive Council (FEC).

The meeting was presided over by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo at the Council Chamber of the Presidential Villa, Abuja, on Wednesday.

Dada disclosed that the approval came after a joint memo presented to the Council by both the ministries of foreign affairs and humanitarian affairs, disaster management and social development.

He stated that Air Peace and Max Air airlines had been contracted to provide three aircraft and run as many shifts as possible to facilitate the evacuation.

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

On the approved amount, Dada said: “The ministry of humanitarian affairs wrote a memo to the president seeking funding to enable us to 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 no less than 5,000 Nigerians.

“Whatever happens, you can rest assured we are going to run any number of shifts that it will be involved.

“Don’t forget, it will also involve taking care of those Nigerians that (who) 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.”

The minister confirmed that the amount would be released immediately to enable the operations to commence today (Wednesday).

On students trapped in Ukrainian cities now in the hands of Russians, Dada said:

“We want to believe the Russian armed forces will obey the rules of engagement.

“Don’t forget that even our missions in Ukraine have had to be evacuated.

“So if for any reason any Nigerian is left behind, we are very prayerful, we are hopeful that no harm shall come to them once, of course, they are in some shelters or whatever place they are hiding.

“Don’t forget we had also summoned both the Russian and Ukrainian ambassadors to our ministry, and we did emphasize the need for their troops to ensure that they do not do anything that will harm the lives of innocent citizens.

“We have seen video clips making the rounds about the alleged treatments that had been meted out to black people who were on queues and in buses and all that.

“All these we have brought to the attention of the ambassadors and we have expressed our displeasure at this development and demanded that they do something about this.”