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UPDATE: African governments seek to help nationals flee war in Ukraine

NIGERIA, South Africa and other African governments are in a scramble to help their nationals escape Ukraine as reports emerged of racist and unfair treatment of their citizens at border crossings.

African nationals, many of them students, are among hundreds of thousands of people trying to flee into Poland and other neighbouring countries.

Nigeria on Monday urged border officials in Ukraine and elsewhere to treat its citizens equally.

‘There have been unfortunate reports of Ukrainian police and security personnel refusing to allow Nigerians to board buses and trains heading towards the Ukraine-Poland border,’ said presidential advisor Garba Shehu in a statement.

He said there are also reports of Polish officials refusing Nigerian citizens entry into Poland from Ukraine.

‘It is paramount that everyone is treated with dignity and without favour,’ said Shehu.

A group of South Africans, mostly students, have been stuck at the Ukrainian-Polish border, the country’s foreign ministry spokesman, Clayson Monyela, said on Twitter.

The South African ambassador to Warsaw was at the site trying to get them through, according to Monyela who on Sunday had said Africans were being ‘treated badly’ at the Polish-Ukraine border.

Poland’s ambassador to Nigeria Joanna Tarnawska dismissed claims of unfair treatment.

‘Everybody receives equal treatment. I can assure you that I have reports that already some Nigerian nationals have crossed the border into Poland,’ she told local media.

She said Nigerians could stay for 15 days. Even invalid documents were being accepted to cross the border and Covid-19 restrictions were lifted, she added.

The Ukrainian embassy in Nigeria could not immediately be reached for comments.



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