OVER 400 Nigerians living on the Ukraine arrived in Abuja this morning as the ongoing evacuation programme initiated to airlift all 5,600 of them got underway with this first batch being flown in from Romania.
Earlier this week, Nigeria’s federal cabinet approved a sum of $8.5m as funding for the evacuation of refugees stranded in Ukraine and its neighbours. At the meeting presided over by vice president Professor Yemi Osinbajo, the money was released to fly home Nigerians currently taking refuge in Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Hungary and even Russia.
Zubairu Dada, Nigeria’s minister of state for foreign affairs, revealed that Air Peace and Max Air airlines have been selected to provide three aircraft to facilitate the evacuation of Nigerians. Today, a Max Air plane landed at the Nnamdi Azikiwe Airport in Abuja with 416 passengers from Romania.
These returnees, mostly students, were received by government officials at the private jet terminal of the airport. They then underwent documentation after which they will be paid some stipends and are then expected to also self-isolate at home in line with the Covid-19 protocols.
More Nigerians are expected to be evacuated over the coming days as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine continues. Foreign minister Godfrey Onyeama, who said there were about 5,600 Nigerian students in Ukraine, added that there were also non-students, some of whom might not have been legally documented.
Amid calls for the Nigerian government to do something about their plight, the House Representatives invited Mr Onyeama to come and explain the official policy on the matter on Monday. At a meeting with Hon Femi Gbajabiamila, the speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr Onyeama revealed that the first batch of Nigerians will be evacuated on Wednesday, March 2.