The Federal Executive Council, which met in Abuja on Wednesday, approved $8.5 million (N3.5 billion) to facilitate the immediate evacuation of 5,000 Nigerians from Ukraine, Poland, Romania, Hungary and Slovakia.
Shortly after the meeting presided over by Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo at the Council Chambers of the Presidential Villa, the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Zubairu Dada told State House correspondents that the approval followed a joint memo presented by his ministry and that of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development at the council meeting.
Together with the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Hajia Sadiya Umar Farouk at the media briefing, Dada said the evacuees included 940 from Romania, 150 from Slovakia and 350 from Poland, who have registered to leave.
He threw light on he amount approved: ‘The Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs wrote a memo to the President seeking funding to enable us to conduct this exercise. The memo was to the tune of $8.5 million, which Mr President has graciously approved. That provision entails an arrangement to evacuate no less than 5,000 Nigerians.
‘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’.
On when the funds would be released, Dada responded, ‘That is why the evacuation flights will begin today (Wednesday)’.
The evacuees will however not be subjected to the 48-hour pre-travel COVID-19 test, which has been waived for them.
In a 28th February 2022 memo signed by the Director-General of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, which was sent to all airlines, the agency stated that the Nigerian passengers would only have to fill in the necessary documentation.
The circular titled, “Waiver from Pre-Departure COVID-19 Quarantine Protocols for Nigerian Returnees from Ukraine”, further stated that the move had been authorised by the Presidential Steering Committee on COVID 19.
‘Passengers will however be required to fill the Nigerian International Travel Portal upon their arrival in Nigeria with the assistance of the Port Health Services,’ the memo reads.
‘Upon arriving in Nigeria passengers will be directed by the Port Health Services to designated government laboratories for COVID 19 PCR test. The COVID19 PCR test which must be done within 24 hours of arrival will be at no cost to the passenger’.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs warned that only those documented at the Nigerian Embassies would be evacuated.
A deluge of reports and footage posted on social media in the past week has shown acts of discrimination and violence against African, Asian and Caribbean citizens – many of them studying in Ukraine – while fleeing Ukrainian cities and at some of the country’s border posts.
The Nigerian government on Monday condemned the treatment of thousands of its students and citizens fleeing the war in Ukraine, amid growing concerns that African students are facing discrimination by security officials and others on the Ukrainian side and being obstructed in attempts reach Poland’s border checkpoints.
Referencing reports that Ukrainian police had obstructed feeling Nigerians, President Muhammadu Buhari: ‘All who flee a conflict situation have the same right to safe passage under UN convention and the colour of their passport or their skin should make no difference’.”