Nigerian students happy to be home after fleeing Ukraine

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The first group of Nigerian evacuees escaping the Russian invasion of Ukraine arrived at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja on Friday.

Nigerian student Oduola Joshua Adebowale, a first-year medical student said he fled his home with only his documents and laptop after an explosion shook his hostel.

He and a group of friends took shelter in an underground bunker before making plans to leave the country.

Thousands of African and other foreign nationals, many of them students, have been scrambling to leave Ukraine since Russia’s invasion on Feb. 24.

Many of the evacuees looked tired but happy to be home.

Jasper Ahamefula, another medical student, said she was sad her parents’ financial effort may be wasted, but they are happy she is alive.

Scores of foreign students have posted on social media, saying they were treated badly as they queued up with the crowds trying to escape Russia’s invasion.

The African Union said this week it was disturbed by what it had heard and the U.N. refugee agency said it had urged authorities in countries neighbouring Ukraine to open their borders to African citizens.

Ukraine’s Foreign Minister, Dmytro Kuleba, said on Wednesday (March 2) that authorities had sent up a hotline for African and Asian students looking for help in getting out. “We are working intensively to ensure their safety & speed up their passage,” he tweeted.

”We are expecting three other flights later today – two from Poland and one from Budapest, so we are expecting that at the end of today, we would have brought in close to a thousand – again apart from the 415 that have just came in this morning,” Permanent Secretary at the Nigerian Federal Ministry for Foreign Affairs told Reuters on Friday.