Nigeria has evacuated at least 1,800 of its citizens from Ukraine since Russia’s invasion, but says that 80 Nigerian students remain trapped in the southern city of Kherson. Russian forces have captured the city, and the students this week called on the Nigerian government to come to their aid.
It was another cold night in underground bomb shelters for Nigerian students in Kherson. The students have been trapped for about two weeks since Russian forces seized the city on March 3.
The students say gas and internet services have been cut off and that they’re running out of food.
Akinyemi Victor, who graduated from the Kherson state maritime academy, spoke about the students’ situation on Twitter.
“When there’s no gas, there’s no heating system. We heat now with firewood and we cook there too. Some of us who have tried to go out of the city, Russian armies are sending them back home. No supply is coming into the city, (there’s) nothing going out, nothing coming in,” Victor said.
Kherson, a port city in southern Ukraine, was one of the first areas to fall to Russian forces. An estimated 150 Africans are believed to be trapped in the city, according to online groups calling for their evacuation.
This week, the Nigerian students called on their country to come to their aid.
Nigerian Foreign Minister Geoffrey Onyeama responded and said authorities are working with Nigeria’s ambassadors in Ukraine and Russia to assist the students.
Yusuf Buba, chairman of a foreign affairs committee set up by lawmakers to facilitate evacuation operations, says efforts are underway.
“Our only area of concern now is for those students that are still in Ukraine and we will put our heads together with the (foreign affairs) ministry to see how the remaining students will come out to safety,” Buba said.
Online groups have been promoting the hashtag #EvacuateKherson to raise awareness about the African students trapped there.
Some recently evacuated students are also trying to help get their colleagues out.
Samuel Otunla was rescued last week from the northeastern city of Sumy and has been creating awareness about the students in Kherson from his new shelter in Hungary.
“All of these embassies need to be aware of the situation so they can keep pushing, keep communicating with the humanitarian aid, the Ukrainian government, possibly the Russian government and military as well to make sure that these people are evacuated. It’s not a good experience at all,” Otunla said.
Ukrainian authorities have accused Moscow of trying to create a republic out of the captured city and its surrounding areas.