President Muhammadu Buhari has approved $8.5 million for the evacuation of Nigerians trapped in the ongoing war in Ukraine.
This was disclosed to State House Correspondents on Wednesday after the weekly virtual Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting, presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
Disclosing this to journalists at the post-FEC media briefing, the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Zubairu Dada, said the memo raised for the response purpose was jointly raised between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development.
Also speaking on the approval, the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Hajiya Sadiya Umar Farouk, said the amount is to evacuate at least 5000 nationals stranded as a result of the crisis.
Dada disclosed that Air Peace and Max Air airlines have been contracted to provide three aircrafts and run as many shifts as possible to facilitate the evacuation.
He also said those to be evacuated include 940 from Romania, 150 from Slovakia and 350 from Poland who have registered for evacuation.
“The Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs wrote a memo to the president seeking for funding to enable us conduct this exercise. The memo was in the tune of $8.5 million which Mr. President has graciously approved. That provision entails arrangement to evacuate not less than 5,000 Nigerians.
It also includes some assistance for the feeding that may have been done by the missions under whatever arrangements. Even the missions themselves are also in dire situations. So, it’s a whole gambit of activities that are involved,” he said
Asked if the amount will be released immediately for the exercise, the Minister said “that is why the evacuation flights will begin today (Wednesday).”
On students trapped in Ukrainian cities now in the hands of Russians, Dada said: “we want to believe the Russian armed forces will obey the rules of engagement. They know the rules about civilians that are caught up in situations such as this. We want to assume they will respect international laws and ensure that no harm comes to them.
“Don’t forget that even our mission in Ukraine has had to be evacuated. So, if for any reason any Nigerian is left behind, we are very prayerful, we are very hopeful that no harm shall come to them once of course they are in some shelters or whatever place they are hiding.
“Don’t forget we had also summoned both the Russian and Ukrainian ambassadors to our ministry, and we did emphasis the need for their troops to ensure that they do not do anything that will harm the lives of innocent citizens.
“We have seen video clips making the rounds about the alleged treatment that had been meted out to black people who were on queues and in buses and all that.
“All these we have brought to the attention of the ambassadors and we have expressed our displeasure at this development and demanded that they do something about this,” he said.