FG lists four borders in Ukraine Nigerians can cross to safety - THE CABLE
The Nigerian government has listed four borders in Ukraine where its citizens seeking to leave the country can be evacuated.
Abike Dabiri-Erewa, chief executive officer (CEO) of the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NiDCOM), spoke on Saturday.
She said the borders are Hrebenne-Rawa Ruska, Korczowa-Krakowiec, Medyka-Szeginie and Budomierz-Hurszew.
“For Nigerians in Ukraine trying to cross over to Poland, there are eight borders between Poland and Ukraine, four borders are recommended,” she said.
“Nigeria volunteer groups, as well as staff of the Nigerian embassy, will be at these borders to help you out. We are going to provide contact details of these Nigerians that will be there to help you out and the convergence point.
“If you are in Ukraine and you are not in a place directly affected, it is advisable that you stay where you are.
“There are forms you can fill, they are people to call. Every information would be provided on our website: nidcom.gov.ng so go to that website for further details and we will continue to update you.
Dabiri-Erewa said Nigerians in Poland can contact the following phone lines for assistance: +48 739400001, 729467341, +48729560 416, +48508182948, +48729690481 and +2348033372086.
Months of tension between Russia and Ukraine took another dimension on Thursday when Vladimir Putin, president of Russia, order troops into Ukraine.
On Friday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said at least 137 Ukrainian soldiers and civilians have been killed since the Russian invasion began.
The death toll has reportedly rose to 198 with over 1,000 said to have been wounded.
Countries with the biggest real estate gap between buying and renting - YAHOO FINANCE
Hot real estate markets are adding gasoline to the debate about buying versus renting a home.
There have been a number of attempts at crunching the numbers. Which one makes more sense can depend on where in the world you plan to live.
New research from Compare The Market looked at average house prices and rent in OECD countries to find out which countries have the biggest gap between mortgage payments versus renting.
Canada has one of the widest gaps between renting and buying. The report found mortgage payments are 32.6 per cent more expensive than rent for a three-bedroom home.
But there are nine countries with even larger gaps. Luxembourg has the biggest gap between mortgage and rent at 51.1 per cent, while also being the most expensive for both in the world.
"This means that, with an average rent of US$3,017, the average monthly mortgage payment is estimated at US$4,558," read the report.
"Luxembourg is renowned for its high cost of living, which is clearly reflected in the cost of property and rent."
Latvia has the second-largest gap at 42.5 per cent. However, prices for both are significantly lower. The average rent is only $582 a month and mortgage payments are $830.
Slovakia has the third-largest gap (42.3 per cent), in large part due to rising home prices. But each option is also similarly lower-priced with an average rent of $771 and mortgage payments of $1,098.
There are only two countries where buying is cheaper than renting. Average mortgage payments of $1,258 in Finland are 2.1 per cent cheaper than rent of $1,285.
The other is Italy. Mortgage payments of $997 are slightly lower (0.9 per cent) compared to rent of $1,006.
Jessy Bains is a senior reporter at Yahoo Finance Canada. Follow him on Twitter @jessysbains.
British Airways IT Outage Grounds Planes; Cyber Attack Ruled Out - BLOOMBERG
BY Bloomberg News,
(Bloomberg) -- British Airways canceled more than 150 short-haul flights to and from its London Heathrow hub through midday, citing “continuing technical issues” following a systems outage that hit late Friday.
Morning departures to Milan, Geneva and Aberdeen were among those scrapped Saturday, with the carrier predicting further disruption through the day and advising people to check the status of their flight before heading to the airport.
Long-haul services at Heathrow together with flights at London’s smaller Gatwick and City airports were due to operate, though with possible delays, BA said in an emailed statement, adding that its website was now working again.
British Airways said Friday that the disruption stemmed from a hardware issue and that it hadn’t suffered a cyber-attack. Authorities have been on alert for electronic disruption following Russia’s attack on Ukraine. Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government banned Aeroflot flights to Heathrow after the invasion, with Moscow responding by closing its airspace to U.K. carriers.
BA was criticized on social media, with passengers saying they weren’t notified of cancellations and had been unable to reach the carrier’s call centers. The airline said those impacted can get a refund or rebook for a later date.
“Our teams have been working hard through the night and will continue to do so to resolve the issue as soon as possible,” it said.
British Airways Investigates Technical Issue Disrupting Travel - BLOOMBERG
(Bloomberg) -- British Airways is responding to passenger complaints on Twitter by saying it’s “working hard” to resolve a technical issue that has disrupted operations and communications systems.
- Carrier tweets that it can’t address a number of customer issues because of the problem
- BA says it will provide further updates as quickly as possible
- Passengers say they can’t book flights, access website or app, board planes
FG Moves To Evacuate Nigerians Trapped In Ukraine To Poland - DAILY TRUST
The federal government says it has made necessary arrangements to evacuate stranded Nigerians in Ukraine to Poland.
The Embassy of Nigeria in Warsaw, Poland, in a public notice, said officials and volunteers would be at the Polish-Ukrainian borders to pick up Nigerians.
It, therefore, advised Nigerians crossing over to Poland to present 02-953, Kosiarzy 22B, 02-956 Warszawa as the destination address to the border officials.
In light of the recent happenings in Ukraine. Please be advised that for all Nigerians crossing over to Poland would have us waiting for them.
The Federal Government of Nigeria is making necessary arrangements for the evacuation of those stranded in Ukraine through the Embassy in Warsaw, Poland.
Please present this as your destination address with the Border controls 02-953, Kosiarzy 22B, 02-956 Warszawa.
The Nigerian Embassy staff and along with volunteers will be at the Polish-Ukrainian borders with buses and vans to pick up Nigerians from the crossing border points and locations below:
Szkola Podstawowa w Lubyczy Krolewskiej (zaplecze hali sportowej) ul. Jana III Sobieskiego 5, 22-680 Lubycza Krolewska
Swietlica, Korczowa 155, 37-552 Korczowa
Hala Sportowa – Medyka 285, 37-732 Medyka
Szkola Podstawowa w m. Krowica Sama 183, 37-625 Krowica Sama
The Embassy of Nigeria,
Train services in Nigeria cheap, heavily subsidised – NRC MD - PUNCH
BY Alexander Okere
The Nigerian Railway Corporation has said it offers one of the cheapest train services in the world, adding that its current charges for rail transportation were low when compared with the value of services offered.
Its Managing Director and Chief Executive, Mr Fidet Okhiria, who disclosed this during an interview with Saturday PUNCH, also said the operations of the NRC were heavily subsidised by the Federal Government to make rail transportation affordable.
“We are operating under a heavy subsidy. That ticket you say is N5,000, if you value it, you would see that it is up to N20,000. The government still provides funding. It pays our members of staff 100 per cent because what the customer pays cannot pay salaries. So, the government is subsidising our operations.
“In Europe, it costs more to travel by rail than by air because the rail takes you from city centre to city centre; it is timely and more convenient. But we have to also meet the cost of operation halfway. The government is providing a lot of funds to make it work.
“The user should be able to contribute to it (rail transportation) else it would run down again and the benefit would be lost completely. A user has a choice of what they want to travel on, that was why we had three classes when we were designing the system,” Okhiria said.
While reacting to concerns expressed by some Nigerians over ticket cost, he explained that the NRC provided various levels of train services.
He added, “We have the VIP (class) with 24 collapsible seats in a coach and it costs N5,000 (per person). There is the executive or business class with 55 seats (two in a row) and there is another class of 86 or 88 seats (with five seats in a row), depending on one’s pocket and the convenience they want. Some are N2,500, N3,500 and N6,500, depending on the time. So, it is cheap to go by train, even if it is free, people would still complain.”
Our one month horror in desert of death - Nigerian returnees from Libya - VANGUARD
•I was chained for 10 days for refusing to prostitute- auxiliary nurse •17,414 Nigerians return from Libya in seven years
By Evelyn Usman
A chartered Boeing 737-800 aircraft- Al Buraq, landed at the cargo wing of Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Ikeja Lagos, Wednesday night, with 159 stranded Nigerians returnees from Libya ,alighting from the air stair.
Two of them could barely walk unassisted. While one sat on a wheelchair, the other was with crutches. They stood at the aircraft’s service door, unable to alight, until officials of the National Emergency Management Agency ,NEMA went to carry them to a waiting ambulance.
The returnees’ gloomy countenances changed immediately they stepped on the soil of their fatherland, a mission most of them thought was impossible owing to the near-death conditions treatments in their search for a better living condition in a strange land.
Statistics of returnee
This is not the first time stranded Nigerians would be assisted back home from Libya. Statistics at Saturday Vanguard’s disposal revealed that between 2016 and February 2022, 17,414 Nigerians have been assisted back home from Libya alone.
A breakdown of this figure showed that 315 Nigerians voluntarily returned in 2016; 6,806 returned in 2017; 4,123 in 2018 and 4,628 in 2019.
In 2020, 816 stranded Nigerian returnees were assisted back home from Libya and 360 of them in 2021. Between January and February 2022 alone, the nation has witnessed the return of 346 stranded Nigerians .
Out of this number, 167 were repatriated from Libya , in addition to the 159 Nigerians that voluntarily returned on Wednesday . Among the latest returnees were 80 adult females, four female children and an infant . There were also 67 adult males, six children and one male infant.
Astonishingly, the majority of the ladies whose ages were between 20 and 43, were discovered to be from the South West region of the state, as against previous insinuation that girls from Edo State were specialists in travelling out of the country.
With the number of Nigerian returnees from Libya and the constant reportage of their near death experiences there, one would have expected Nigerian youths to shun the temptation of attempting to go through the valley of death in their search for greener pasture.
Surprisingly, among those who just returned were undergraduates who abandoned their studies in Nigeria . Some of them were also discovered to have left just last year , thereby leaving one to wonder if they never read the robust reports of previous returnees either on the pages of newspapers or on different social media handles.
One of the returnees who proffered an answer to this question blamed some travel agents for their woes, saying they were never told from the onset that their destination was Libya. But this has always been the story, yet many yearly embark on this grave journey.
Too late to turn back
For Mrs Olaitan who hails from Oyo State, she had this to say: “ My journey to Libya started when I got the news that I could get a good job overseas. I left my job at Ikeja, Lagos to embark on the journey for a better life. I left Lagos in 2018, with some other people who were also deceived. The agents said some of us were going to Germany and others, Italy. We were excited as we prepared for the journey . We were told that the process would start when we got to Kano state.
The journey to greener pastures took us about a month. Some of us were stranded and ran out of cash. We passed so many terrorist camps before we got to Libya. We stayed without food for days until we eventually reached Libya.
“What we saw in Libya wasn’t what we were told. Rather, we were told that the available jobs were prostitution and house-help. By then, going back home was difficult. We were used like slaves, with no time to rest.
“We worked as a maid and were paid between N50,000 and N70,000, depending on the agreement with the family we worked for. But prostitution was the best chance of survival. Those who worked in the hospital also had their fair share of the hellish condition.
I paid up to N2million to settle with my agent. Many others went into prostitution because that was the fastest way they could pay their agents”.
On her part, 32- year- old single mother, Oluwande Aisha, who left Nigeria in 2018, also said her agent never told her she was going to Libya.
She said: “ We spent one month in the desert before we arrived Libya. On reaching there, I worked as a maid for one year and six months before I could pay N1.8 million to the agent who sponsored the trip.
Working as a maid is horrible. There was never a time to rest except after midnight. We were drained to the extent that we had no strength to work. Besides, security agents were very unfriendly too. I regret making that move and I am glad to be home”.
Abandoned university education
For 28-year Foluke Olatunji, she abandoned her education at the Federal Polytechnic, Offa, Ilorin, Kwara State, with the intention to go to Europe to further her study and at the same time, work.
She said: “ I had a friend who had been assisting me for a long time, when I lamented about the situation in Nigeria. At one point she stopped and suggested I should come over . I thought over the matter for two months before deciding to leave.
“My journey started at Agege, Pen Cinema, to Kano, where I met other girls . On our journey in the desert, our vehicle had technical problems. I got scared and started crying, I wanted to go back but I was told to pay N100,000.
“When I got to Libya, the woman I was supposed to meet was nowhere to be found. I was told she was in Italy. I confronted my friend who linked me up with the opportunity to express my disappointment to her because this was not what we agreed.
“ I spent three years and some months in Libya working as a house maid. I was told to pay 1.7million naira to the agent that facilitated the journey. I was shocked and surprised because none of this was mentioned to me, I was only promised help, and was told that whatever I wished to do after, would be appreciated. Other Nigerian ladies I met there told me how they were deceived with mouth watery promises of good jobs.
For me, the family I stayed with could speak English .So, it was easy for me to communicate. However after paying, my agent still collected my 10 months’ salary, without giving me a dime. This was because we were not paid directly.
“ I didn’t know what to do because I didn’t inform my parents about my journey to Libya. Even when I got there, I lied to them that I was in Dubai. I came back to Nigeria to continue my education, even if I have to start afresh. I hope other Nigerian youths will learn from my story” she said bitterly.
Chained for 10 days
During a chat with 23-year-old Bose, an Ogun state born, she spoke with difficulty as she was still writhing in excruciating pains from her broken leg.
Her ordeal was the most pathetic as she revealed that she was chained for 10 days for refusing to go into prostitution , in order to pay her agent.
According to her: “After completing my apprenticeship in nursing here in Nigeria, I got an opportunity to work overseas as a trainee for six months. I was not the only one involved. I got excited and jumped on the opportunity. I went with my certificate with the hope of getting a job after the training, unknown to all of us that we were being taken to Libya for prostitution and human trafficking.
“The picture of what we would face yonder started in the one month journey in the desert. When we arrived there, I was shocked that all they told us about getting jobs and training were lies.
“Rather, I was sold to a Nigerian family . This was a routine for everyone who was taken there with the promise of getting a Job. To my greatest surprise, the human trafficking business was mostly done by Nigerians who have stayed long there. That is one major way of making money. They sell us to families in need of our services, especially for prostitution ,so we can be used to make money for them.
On getting to the Nigerian family I was sold to, I was chained with wire and a cloth was put in my throat, with tape covering my mouth. They told me I would remain there if I refused to go into prostitution, that it was the only job they could offer me. I rejected the offer and I was kept in a room for about a week and three days. The wife of the man later directed that I should be untied and sold away. “ When I got to the second family, I was taken to a place called connection house for prostitution. In the connection house, both boys and girls were kept there for prostitution. That is also a place where human beings are sold as in the days of slave trade
“I was lucky to get a telephone call from a man there , with which I contacted my family. That was how I managed to escape to Nigeria’s embassy.
“ But other girls are still trapped there. Some died of diseases while a lot of them are living with different types of venereal diseases because of the different types of men who came to have them against their volition. Some of these men would not take their bath for days . Some of them who looked sickly would not use condom”.
NEMA DG speaks
Director General of NEMA, Alhaji Mustapha Ahmed who received the last batch of Nigerian returnees from Libya , Wednesday, admonished them to adopt a positive attitude towards life challenges.
Represented by the Lagos Territorial Office Coordinator, Ibrahim Farinloye, he said, “It is normal in life to struggle for better and improved living conditions. But in the struggle, we must avoid endangering our lives. There is nowhere in the world that its citizens will not have to strive to attain a good life within the limited resources available in that country.
“Nigeria is better endowed than most countries where young Nigerians are travelling to seek greener pastures. What we need to do is for all of us to look inward and avail ourselves of the countless opportunities in Nigeria.
“ Government of the day has been providing an enabling environment for us to thrive and will continue to cooperate with development partners in creating level playing grounds for all Nigerians in the country”, he said even as he advised them to discourage other youths who have the intention of migrating.
Trapped Nigerians Can't Be Evacuated Until Airport Reopens - Federal Govt - LEADERSHIP
By Innocent Odoh
Until the airports in Ukraine are opened, Nigerians trapped in the country may not have an easy exit, the federal government has been told by the authorities of Ukraine.
Consequently, the Nigerian government is weighing the option of evacuating the affected citizens by road.
This was one of the outcomes of the meeting Nigeria had with the two envoys of Russia and Ukraine to Nigeria yesterday.
The Ambassador of Ukraine Kirdoda Valerii had said that his country's air space was no longer safe for flying and that the airports had been closed.
Nigeria had summoned the Ambassador of Russia Alexei Shebarshin and Valerii following the escalating violence triggered by the invasion of Ukraine by Russia on Thursday.
The minister of foreign affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, who met with the envoys separately behind closed doors, told reporters that during his parley with the Russian envoy, he expressed the displeasure of the Nigerian government over the violation of the territorial integrity of Ukraine, a United Nations (UN) member state, and country with which Nigeria has diplomatic relations.
Onyeama also told Shebarshin that Nigeria wants Russia to revert to the status quo before the military action and to prioritise diplomacy and dialogue.
"This is really the position of the government. And also, that we have 5,600 Nigerians in Ukraine and we are very concerned about what we are hearing and what we are seeing regarding missiles and bombs about the safety of our Nigerian citizens there, that we would like to be able to evacuate them," he said.
According to Onyeama, the Russian envoy promised to communicate the concern of the Nigerian government to his home country, adding that Russia considers Nigeria a friendly nation and would do nothing to harm her citizens. The envoy assured the minister that their action is targeted at military installations and not against civilian areas.
Onyeama said he also discussed with the Russian envoy about the practicalities of how Nigeria can get her citizens out of Ukraine, those who want to leave the country and what measures they could apply to facilitate to safeguard Nigerians in Ukraine, adding that hopefully, the war won't last long.
On the question about the evacuation of Nigerians from Ukraine, the minister said the issue can only come up when the airports open.
Onyeama said the Russian envoy stated that they would also see some airports as military targets possibly.
The minister further discussed road travel as an alternative to facilitate the evacuation of Nigerians even though some Nigerians have been able to flee into the neighouring countries such as Poland.
The Russian envoy, however, told Onyeama that there might be risk involved, while also saying that Russia was mindful of the civilians from foreign countries and promised to take all the necessary measures to ensure their security.
"He was a lot more sanguine, optimistic that no harm will come to them, but we cannot take any risks," Onyeama stated.
In the same vein, Onyeama, after his meeting with the Ukrainian envoy, expressed the sympathy of the Nigerian government to the country over the war imposed on the nation and its people that came under heavy bombardment, which has led to dozens of deaths and injuries and destruction of property.
The minister pointed out that Ukraine is a country that Nigeria has diplomatic relations, a member of the UN and cannot condone the violation of their sovereignty and territorial integrity.
He also told the Ukrainian envoy that Nigeria has over 5,000 students and citizens in the country and was very concerned about their safety and welfare.
"And we certainly want the cooperation of the government of Ukraine to do whatever is possible to ensure their safety and security and to also seek advice as to how the evacuation can be facilitated," Onyeama said.
According to the minister, the envoy said the Ukrainian government has given all the residents and civilians, specific instructions about how to stay safe and the measures to take.
He said the Nigerian Embassy in Ukraine will also act as a coordinating mechanism in reaching out to all Nigerians in Ukraine and ensure that they adhere to the advice and directives.
On his part, the Ukrainian envoy expressed gratitude to the government and people of Nigeria for their support.
"Right now, we are in a very difficult situation, but we are fighting against the aggression and we believe that we will all win," the Ukrainian envoy said.
Valerii also said Nigerian students in Ukraine were in the same situation as anybody else in his country.
"Ukrainian government does not differentiate between people on the basis of their nationality and that is the best effort to protect everybody.
"Currently, the evacuation of Nigerian students is not possible because it is not safe to fly on the sky of Ukraine. As soon as it is safe to fly on the sky of Ukraine, we will join the Embassy of Nigeria in Ukraine and jointly with the Nigerian government, we will arrange for the evacuation of Nigerian students," the envoy said.
On the reports that Nigerians are being conscripted into the Ukrainian army to fight, the envoy noted declared that it was optional.
The federal government also yesterday raised concerns over the refusal by Poland to allow Nigerians fleeing the conflict in Ukraine into the country even when nationals of other African countries were reportedly being allowed into Poland.
The minister of foreign affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, raised this issue on behalf of the government when he met with envoys of European Union countries in Abuja yesterday.
Onyeama noted that the government was receiving emergency calls from Nigerians who were going by road, evacuating Ukraine and a lot of them heading to Poland.
"We have had a number of calls, desperate calls and that there are cases of women and pregnant women and so forth," Onyeama said.
The minister also said the government was informed that nationals of other African countries were being allowed into Poland and wondered why Nigerians were being denied entry into the country.
According to the minister, the Polish Ambassador to Nigeria, Joanna Tarnawska, has however, assured him to immediately check with the capital in order to address the situation.
Nigeria is preparing to host the president and first lady of Poland, and it appears to the government as an aberration that a situation that people fleeing a global crisis like what is taking place in Ukraine should be prevented from getting out to safety.
"So, we hope that also the European Union and others, and if that is indeed the case, will prevail on, not just necessarily Poland, but also any other border country to please share some sympathy and humanness to refugees fleeing this crisis, be they Nigerians or any other nationality," Onyeama said.
Tarnawska, in her remarks, however said Poland was taking every necessary step to provide safety for those fleeing Ukraine.
Earlier, the Head of the European Union Delegation to Nigeria and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Samuela Isopi, who led the delegation, said the meeting justified the importance that the EU attached to the issue of the Russia-Ukraine crisis.
Isopi told Onyeama that the European Union was ready to assist Ukraine with help, including financial and humanitarian assistance.
It’s too risky to evacuate 5,600 Nigerians in Ukraine now – FG - PUNCH
BY Deborah Tolu-Kolawole, Solomon Odeniyi, Godfrey George, Olufemi Morgan and Emmanuel Ojo
…say Polish officials bar entry, demand visas, authorisation letters
•We’re hiding in bunkers, Internet down, can’t get food, fuel –Students
The Federal Government on Friday said there can be no evacuation of Nigerians in Ukraine until the airports in the European country, which is under attack by Russia, are reopened.
The Russian President, Vladimir Putin, in the early hours of Thursday, had ordered an invasion of Ukraine.
The invasion was marked with shelling and rocket attacks on several Ukrainian major cities, including the capital, Kyiv, leading to dozens of deaths.
The invasion, which has continued, has created widespread panic and seen many fleeing Ukraine.
Countries such as India, South Africa, among others had announced the facilitation of the evacuation of their nationals from Ukraine to neighbouring Poland by setting up offices at the Ukrainian-Polish borders.
According to the Nigerian Foreign Affairs Ministry, there are no fewer than 5,600 Nigerians in Ukraine, majority of who are students.
Ukraine is a choice destination for many Nigerian students, especially those in medical-related fields, because it is cheaper compared with other western countries.
The National Association of Nigerian Students in Ukraine had sent out a Save Our Soul message to the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), seeking immediate evacuation from Ukraine.
On Friday, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, said the Federal Government was concerned about the safety of the 5,600 Nigerians in Ukraine.
“The advice we were getting is that we should not panic. The embassy was in touch with the students telling them to take reasonable precautions,” Onyeama said.
The foreign affairs minister spoke in Abuja after having separate meetings with the Ukrainian ambassador to Nigeria, Kirdoda Valerii, and his Russian counterpart, Alexei Shebarshin.
Onyeama disclosed that during his meeting with the Russian envoy, he discussed the possibility of Nigeria getting her citizens out of Ukraine but the Russian envoy told him there might be risk involved.
According to him, Shebarshin, however, said Russia was mindful of the civilians from foreign countries and would take all the necessary measures to ensure their security.
“He was a lot more sanguine, optimistic that no harm will come to them, but we cannot take any risks,” the minister quoted Shebarshin to have said.
However, Onyeama said he made it clear to the Russian envoy that the Federal Government of Nigeria would not condone the violation of the territorial integrity of a United Nations member state with which Nigeria has diplomatic relations.
Onyema said he told Shebarshin that Nigeria was urging Russia to revert to the status quo before the military action on Ukraine and to prioritise diplomacy and dialogue.
“This is really the position of the government. And also, that we have 5,600 Nigerians in Ukraine and we are very concerned about what we are hearing and what we are seeing, regarding missiles and bombs about the safety of our Nigerian citizens over there, that we would like to be able to evacuate them.
“This would be communicated to his headquarters and that obviously, they consider Nigeria a friendly country and Nigerians; and that they would do nothing to harm Nigerians and assured me that their action is targeted at military installations and that they are not about to start attacking civilian areas and so forth,” Onyeama said.
On his meeting with the Ukrainian envoy, Onyeama said he told Valerii that Nigeria has over 5,000 students and citizens in the country and was very concerned about their safety and welfare.
“And we certainly want the cooperation of the Government of Ukraine to do whatever is possible to ensure their safety and security and to also seek advice as to how the evacuation can be facilitated,” he said.
He quoted the Ukrainian envoy to have said the evacuation of Nigerians in the European country, whose airspace had been shut down following Russia’s invasion, was not possible for now.
Valerii, however, said the Ukrainian government had given safety tips and instructions to residents, adding that there was no discrimination between Ukrainians and foreigners in the safety measures.
Onyeama quoted the Ukrainian envoy to have stated that, “Right now, we are in a very difficult situation, but we are fighting against the aggression and we believe that we will all win.
“Ukrainian Government does not differentiate between people on the basis of their nationality and that is the best effort to protect everybody.
“Currently, the evacuation of Nigerian students is not possible because it is not safe to fly in the sky of Ukraine. As soon as it is safe to fly on the sky of Ukraine, we will join the Embassy of Nigeria in Ukraine and jointly with the Nigerian Government, we will arrange for the evacuation of Nigerian students.”
Valerii expressed gratitude to the Federal Government and people of Nigeria for their support.
Fleeing Nigerian students stranded at Poland border
Nigerians in students fleeing the conflict in Ukraine have been denied access to Poland and are currently stranded at Yarviv, a border town in Ukraine, Saturday PUNCH learnt.
It was gathered that Polish immigration officials are demanding that all Nigerians who wish to enter must possess visas and authorisation letters which the students have been unable to provide as the Nigerian embassy in Poland has yet to intervene.
The students had headed for the Polish border due to the shutting of Ukraine’s airspace. However, after being denied access to Poland, many of the students are now considering returning to Kyiv, which is now under attack.
A Nigerian student, who gave her name as Victoria, told Saturday PUNCH that, “We were not allowed to pass the Yarviv border. We were told that we had to present visas or authorisation letters. One of the officials here who spoke English told us that our embassy will have to issue us letters of authorisation. The issue now is that they are letting some people stay at the refugee camps but they will take your passports from you.
“We are scared, they are sending us back. It was not even easy to get to the border. Some of us here do not understand the language. So, we can’t even communicate with the locals. We try to use Google translator but we can’t even communicate. It’s not so easy moving in the cold.
“I am afraid; I don’t know what to do. My school sent an email and told us to remain calm and not panic but to be honest, it is hard to tell someone not to panic in this kind of situation. We’ve returned to the bunkers but we will still continue to try our luck.”
Another student, Obinna Victor, they had to seek shelter in subway as buildings were being hit by bombs. He further stated that roads were deserted while supermarkets had run out of supplies.
“So far, I have not received any news of anyone that crossed the border to the Poland side. But I think it’s much safer to be closer to the border until the Nigeria government makes an agreement with the Polish government about Nigerians crossing over,” he said.
A relative of one of the students in Ukraine, who identified herself as Mfon John, told Saturday PUNCH that her sister informed her that many were turned back at the Polish border.
She said, “My sister is still in Kyiv. She told us that some people who tried to enter Poland were turned back because they had no letters of authorisation. She can’t speak the language, so it’s hard communicating with the locals. She says they are in the bunkers and things do not look good. She is afraid and we here are also afraid. We need the Federal Government to please step in.”
Also speaking with one of our correspondents, an official of the Nigerians in Diaspora, Poland, Rawlings Onyi, explained that the Nigerian community in Poland was doing everything possible to ensure that the students get access into the country.
“We are trying to work with the embassy to make sure that something is done. We have written to them and we expect that they attend to us. We are also trying to look for borders that will be easy for them to pass through,” said Onyi.
Saturday PUNCH made unsuccessful attempts to speak with the Nigerian embassy in Warsaw, Poland on steps being taken to ensure that fleeing students are granted letters of authorisations at the border.
Calls and emails sent to the contacts on the website of the embassy were not answered as of the time of filing this report.
Another Nigerian student, David Catalyst, told our correspondent that students could not travel anymore because of the hike in the cost of transportation.
“I left Kyiv for Lviv this afternoon. This is not funny at all. Some students couldn’t even travel because of the hike in the cost of transportation. It gets more dangerous every more minute spent in the major cities of Ukraine. Your prayers are needed here.”
The leader of the Nigerians in Diaspora, Poland, Dr Tade Omotosho, said during a live broadcast by Channels TV, “Nigerian communities have been rallying around to see how we can help and provide shelter to people. We need people from the other side. We haven’t got any official statement from the Nigerian Embassy in Poland and the Embassy in Kyiv as they have not been on top of the situations as we would have wanted them to. They should do better.
“We have been contacting them, but the Embassy in Kyiv cannot do anything to help. The only thing they have said is that we should remain calm and protect ourselves.
A group of six female students who spoke to Channels Television on Friday from Ukraine also confirmed that the Nigerian embassy in Ukraine had neither responded to telephone calls nor text messages despite earlier promises that they would continue to provide support to citizens.
“We have made calls to the Nigerian embassy and we have also sent out emails but we have received no responses,” they said.
Victor, another Nigerian student in the embattled country, told Saturday PUNCH, “We are trapped. We are in trouble. We are hiding in our rooms. But we (Nigerian students in the same building) have agreed to stay together. We are not actually expecting anything good from the Nigerian government. The Nigerian government won’t do anything to help us. So sad!”
News medium, Aljazeera, also spoke with some Nigerian students who confirmed their current predicament.
Annora Omolu, a Nigerian undergraduate at Kyiv Medical University, said she heard a small blast by the window of her apartment.
Confused and scared, she began to reach out to the Nigerian embassy in Ukraine for assistance. “Can they send us flights? Everybody is absolutely on their own,” she said.
Nigerian student unions in Ukraine said they made several calls to the Nigerian embassy in Kyiv without getting a response.
“There has been no embassy response,’’ Anjola Ero-Phillips, President of the Nigerian Students Union in Lviv, told Al Jazeera. “All they say is check the website and the last update on the website is January 26. Everybody is absolutely on their own,’’ he added.
The House of Representatives had called on the Federal Government to immediately begin the evacuation of Nigerian students. The lower chamber also pleaded with Nigerian airline, Air Peace, to assist with the evacuation.
However, human rights lawyer, Mr Femi Falana (SAN), lambasted the House of Representatives for calling on Air Peace to evacuate Nigerians.
Falana told Saturday PUNCH that it was not the job of a private organisation to evacuate Nigerians but the primary responsibility of the government to coordinate such.
Falana said, “Air Peace is a private business, so the National Assembly has no business asking Air Peace to evacuate students. Will the government pay? Will the National Assembly appropriate money for it instead of appealing to Air Peace?
“It is the government that should spend money on rescuing stranded Nigerians, not a private airline. Unfortunately, this is one of the prices we have to pay for our dysfunctional educational system. The government is not fixing things. Hence we have been witnessing exodus.”
Act now, Aisha Buhari tells FG
The wife of the President, Mrs Aisha Buhari, on Friday backed the called by the National Assembly and appealed to the Foreign Affairs Ministry to handle the situation as quick as possible.
“The Minister of Foreign Affairs should treat this matter as an emergency, while our citizens should stay calm, comply with safety procedures and avoid self-help in order to avoid the mischief of human traffickers,” Mrs Buhari said.
British Airways cancels all short-haul flights from London's Heathrow until midday - REUTERS
LONDON (Reuters) -British Airways (BA) said it would cancel all short-haul flights from London's Heathrow airport until midday on Saturday as it deals with an IT failure.
The airline has said the problem, which came to light on Friday and affected its website, app, and airport operations, was not caused by a cyber attack but was a hardware issue.
BA has been caught up in tit-for-tat bans by Russia and Britain that have stopped their respective national carriers from using each other's airspace.
"We are extremely sorry that due to the continuing technical issues we are facing we have regrettably had to cancel all short-haul flights from Heathrow today until midday," the airline said in a statement.
"Our long-haul services at Heathrow and all flights at Gatwick and London City Airport are due to operate as planned, but customers may experience some delays. Our website ba.com is working and customers can check-in online and at the airport," the airline said.
It advised passengers to check on its website for the latest information before travelling to the airport as more disruption was expected.
BA, owned by IAG, was hit by a major computer system failure in 2017 that stranded 75,000 passengers over a holiday weekend, sparking a public relations disaster and pledges from the carrier that it would do better in future.
The company said customers would be offered a full refund for cancelled services or could rebook at a later date for free.
"We know we have let our customers down and we will do everything we can to make this up to them – but for now our focus is on getting as many customers and flights away as we can."
(Reporting by Michael Holden Editing by Catherine Evans and Mark Potter)