Ukrainian Soldiers Threatened To Shoot Us —Returnee Students
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Ukrainian Soldiers Threatened To Shoot Us —Returnee Students


SOME Nigerian students studying in Ukraine have complained that they were threatened with guns by Ukrainian soldiers as they struggled to escape Russia’s invasion of that country.

A medical student, Adebowale Oduola, told international new agency on arrival in Abuja on Friday that he and some friends were trying to get on a train to flee Ukraine when the soldiers pointed guns at them and ordered them back.

The Ukrainian troops told them that they were only letting pregnant women on the service from the city of Lviv to the Polish border, but he said he saw them stop some pregnant African women from getting on board.

“When we asked why they were doing this, the soldiers pointed guns at us, endangering our lives,” he told Reuters after he finally managed to complete his journey and landed at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, on Friday.

Reuters said it could not independently verify the accounts of Asian and African students being pulled off trains, held up at borders and pushed to the back of long lines.

Ukraine’s national police and state border service did not immediately respond to requests for comment on reports that Reuters had received from refugees. But the African Union (UN) said this week that it was disturbed by what it had heard and the UN refugee agency said it had urged authorities in countries neighbouring Ukraine to open their borders to African citizens.

Ukraine’s Foreign Minister, Dmytro Kuleba, said on Wednesday that authorities had sent up a hotline for African and Asian students looking for help in getting out. “We are working intensively to ensure their safety and speed up their passage,” he tweeted.

‘The police dragged us out’ Adebowale did finally manage to get away after waiting for hours for a train at Lviv then getting permission to travel to Romania. He was among 415 Nigerian students who flew into Abuja on a Nigerian government chartered flight from Bucharest. The government has also sent planes to collect Nigerians from Poland and Hungary.

The second batch of about 180 arrived Abuja Friday evening through an Air Peace flight. One student still waiting in Warsaw told Reuters via Zoom that he and two fellow Nigerians were pulled off a train they had boarded in Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv.

“We were already in our cabin, and they called police on us. The police came and dragged us out. Police (said) that ‘this is specifically for Ukrainians’,” Alexander Orah, a 25-year-old management student, said.

Reuters could also not independently confirm his account. Orah said he and his friends were eventually allowed to board a train to Medyka, on the border with Poland, but then met guards who told them that Africans, South Asians and Arabs had to use a different crossing into Romania. When the students refused, he said the guards put up barricades to stop them crossing while allowing white people to leave. When the growing crowd began to move forward, a soldier pointed a gun at them, he said.


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