Nigerian students feel abandoned by their country as war rages on between Ukraine and Russia

Nigerian students in Ukraine
Nigerian students have felt abandoned by their country amidst Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Source: Aris Messinis / AFP

Nigerian students in Ukraine feel abandoned by their country as Russia’s all-out invasion of Ukraine by land, air and sea escalate.

The Russian military has bombarded key military and transportation infrastructure to snuff out any resistance made by Ukraine. With airports in key cities like Kyiv closed, Nigerian students in Ukraine are reportedly not able to fly out of the country or seek sanctuary in other states.

“Me and my sister are in panic because we don’t know what to expect. We are not safe and we are not sure about leaving here because the airport is shut down,” 23-year-old Nigerian student Sarah Ajifa Idachaba told DW right after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine started.

Later that day the Nigerian Foreign Affairs Minister released a video on Twitter, stating that the government will help out with the evacuation of Nigerian students in Ukraine once the airports open up again.

What can Nigerian students in Ukraine do for now?

For now, Nigerian students in Ukraine are advised to “remain calm but be very vigilant and be responsible for their personal security and safety,” according to the Nigerian Embassy in Kyiv.

Many Nigerians are still confused about what to do if the conflict worsens. “The embassy is responsive anytime we reach out to them but it is the same response every time, which leaves me wondering if there are no plans for the worst-case scenario,” Anjola Philips, the president of the Nigerian students union in Kviv, told the Premium Times.

“The issue is we do not have any direction from the Nigerian embassy, I reached out to them and was told to keep checking the website for information. They said they will update us with more information if they receive any. The last update on their website was on January 26, asking us to call the embassy in case of emergency.”

Other testimonies from Nigerian students have stated that they struggled to find transportation out of the state. “There was no Uber or train available this morning when we first checked. But we found a train for tomorrow that had 300 seats when we checked but before we could mobilise other Nigerians and return to book, it was filled up. This was about 20 to 30-minute interval,” Felix Ogunlade, a recent graduate of Ternopil National Medical University, told the Premium Times.

Nigeria as of now has remained neutral in its stance of the invasion. Other nations have either issued major sanctions or requested a ceasefire. The only statement made by Nigeria before Thursday was back in January asking citizens living in Ukraine to take their safety seriously and avoid travels to identified hot spots in Eastern Ukraine.

In contrast to Nigerian students in Ukraine, Indians have started to flee the country as early as Feb. 15, 2022. Source: Dibyangshu Sarkar / AFP

Indian students have started to flee the country as early as Feb. 15, 2022. Before a statement was given by the Indian embassy in Ukraine, Indian parents have reportedly decided to take their children home. Ghaith Ahmed Munaf, head of the Ukraine-based International Organization for the Protection of Human Rights, Ukraine–Iraq (BFNGO), has also provided emergency hotlines to help the evacuation of all Arab nationals and students to safer locations in other Ukrainian states or outside of the country.