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Protesters March on Russian Embassy in Nigeria's Capital


Protesters in Abuja, Nigeria, hold up placards as they chant for peace and call for evacuation of Nigerian students and nationals stranded in Ukraine, Feb. 28, 2022. (Timothy Obiezu/VOA)

Parents, relatives and friends of Nigerian students stranded in Ukraine chanted as they marched outside the Russian Embassy in Abuja on Monday, calling for peace in Ukraine and the students' immediate evacuation from the war-torn country.

"We need peace because of our children," said protester Blessing Keri, whose relative is studying in Ukraine. "We don't want our children there or our sisters or our brothers to go there and perish. We want them to stay in peace and come back to Nigeria in peace."

Nigerian authorities have been unable to evacuate thousands of nationals, including some 5,600 students who were in Ukraine when the crisis began. Airport and train service out of Ukraine has been shut down since Russian forces invaded last week.

Some Nigerians have joined the exodus of people trying to flee Ukraine on foot into Poland and Romania.

Armed security men stand guard on a road that leads to the Russian consulate in Abuja, Nigeria, Feb. 28, 2022. (Timothy Obiezu/VOA)
Armed security men stand guard on a road that leads to the Russian consulate in Abuja, Nigeria, Feb. 28, 2022. (Timothy Obiezu/VOA)

There have been reports that Africans are being blocked from entering Poland while Ukrainians are allowed to cross the border.

On Sunday, an adviser to President Muhammadu Buhari said "it is paramount that everyone is treated with dignity" and "the color of their passport or their skin should make no difference."

Poland has denied that Nigerians are being blocked from entering the country.

Geoffrey Onyeama, Nigeria's minister of foreign affairs, spoke to the local Arise News station, saying Nigeria is making plans to evacuate the students and nationals willing to leave.

"Our people are dispersed all over the country, so it has to be something that's well organized, getting people to go to the closest airports to where they are," he said.

The ministry Sunday said some 256 Nigerians have safely passed into Poland.

Meanwhile, a coalition of Nigerians in Poland are providing relief to their countrymen arriving at the borders and are gathering funds online to help resettle the displaced.

"So these people that are coming in, we need to shelter them, we need to provide for them, we need to give them food, accommodation, even the transport to take them from the border to the accommodation we've provided," said Rawlings Onyi, one of the online campaigners in Poland.

Russia's invasion of Ukraine has attracted criticism from around the globe, including the West African bloc ECOWAS, which has called for an end to the fighting and for all parties to ensure the safety of West Africans living in Ukraine.

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