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Nigerian parents storm Russian embassy in Abuja over plight of their children in Ukraine

Some Nigerians whose children are studying in Ukraine stormed the Russian embassy in Abuja on Monday.

Some Nigerians whose children are studying in Ukraine stormed the Russian embassy in Abuja on Monday.

The parents, who wielded different placards, asked Russia to end the invasion of Ukraine, which entered its fifth day on Monday.

They asked Russia and Ukraine to embrace peace.

“Because there is no longer peace in Ukraine, our children who are studying there are no longer in school. They are on the run because of safety. Presently, we don’t know where they are.”

“We can’t account for our children; that’s why we are here today,” one of the parents said.

Another protester said many Nigerians are currently trapped as a result of the conflict, demanding an end to the hostility.

According to the Country Representative of Ukrainian universities in Nigeria, Dr Cliff Ogbeide, over 12,000 Nigerians are currently studying in Ukrainian universities.

This was corroborated by Jibrin Chinade, a former Nigerian Ambassador to Ukraine during an interview with Trust TV.

“It is instructive to know that Ukraine, having robust diplomatic relations with Nigeria, is offering affordable university admission to Nigerian students with an estimated number hovering above 12,000 currently,” Ogbeide reportedly said.

‘We are living in fear’

While some Nigerian students in Ukraine said they felt abandoned by their country amidst the escalating war between Russia and Ukraine, others said they were living in fear.

Firdausi Muhammad Usman, a medical student in Kharkiv, the second-largest city in Ukraine told the BBC Hausa Service that everyone, especially students were living in fear and anxiety since early Thursday and that they were at a loss as to the exact situation on the ground.

She said: “Around 5am local time, we could hear huge explosions which got us up. I was together with my younger sister at the time; we were terrified and did not know what to do.

“All of a sudden, I could see the Ukrainians we live alongside in the building trooping out with their children and portmanteaus. We remained in the building until around 1pm when we heard another explosion, and then we were told that we should seek refuge at a shelter that is safer.

“While in the shelter, we found out that curfew had been imposed; therefore we should go back to our residence. Streetlights have been put off but water supply and electricity were still accessible, but in the morning internet services were cut off; we are now relying on ‘data plan’ to connect to the world through which we are able to communicate with our families in Nigeria.

“Our families are in a panic. The embassy did not yet speak to us or issue any statement, but they only issued us some forms in which we filled our basic information and the addresses of our kins in Nigeria,” she said.

A Nigerian parent whose daughter is studying in Ukraine said there was tension among parents on the situation.

“We are facing the consequences because before now when I talked with my daughter she told me that there is a crisis going on in eastern Ukraine, that means that the separatists are fighting the Ukrainian authorities for sovereignty,” he said.

Asked if he was thinking of evacuating his daughter, the parent said: “Of course, that’s the most strategic thing to do but the issue is that it depends on when and if one’s daughter is safe.

“For you to even get to the airport you need to travel on a train for seven hours, so it is not really an easy thing. The best thing is evacuation but what we are calling is a diplomatic approach so that the issue can be settled. We are calling for dialogue.”

Nigeria has rolled out evacuation plans.

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