Ukraine Evacuation: 249 Ghanaian students return

The Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Madam Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey, Tuesday said 249 students out of the 1,200 Ghanaians evacuated from Ukraine, have returned to Ghana.

She, however, explained that most of the students were unwilling to return to Ghana and have decided to go to other countries to further their education.

Madam Botchwey made the disclosure when she appeared in Parliament to respond to an urgent question by Francis-Xavier Sosu, the Member of Parliament (MP) for Madina, on measures being put in place to evacuate Ghanaian citizens still trapped in Ukraine following the invasion of that country by Russia.

Madam Botchwey said through the Ministry’s emergency evacuation plan, it liaised with its frontline Missions in Bern, Switzerland and Prague, the Czech Republic, the Honorary Consul in Kyiv, and the leadership of the Ghanaian students in Ukraine to collate data on the Ghanaians, numbering 1,200.

The data helped in the preparation of the evacuation exercise, she said.

In view of the sudden outbreak of the conflict following weeks of intensive but unsuccessful preventive diplomatic measures by world leaders and the closure of the Ukrainian Airport, the Ministry through its Consul in Kyiv, the Church of Pentecost, and NUGS arranged buses for the evacuation of Ghanaian nationals to immediate neighbouring countries.

The evacuees took shelter in Poland, Hungry, Slovakia, Romania and the Czech Republic where they were received and provided with temporary accommodation and food.

She said considering the magnitude of the situation the Ministry deployed additional staff from its Bern, Berlin and Vienna missions to Poland and Hungry to complement the effort of the Honorary Consuls in those countries for the process of evacuating the Ghanaian nationals.

Madam Botchwey said on March 4, 2022, she dispatched one of her deputies, Mr Thomas Mboma, to Hungry, Romania and Poland to ascertain first-hand the situation on the ground regarding the evacuation exercise.

He met some of the Ghanaian citizens, representatives from religious bodies and host officials assisting the Government in the evacuation process and encourage the citizens of the government’s preparedness to assist in airlifting those willing to be evacuated to Ghana.

Of considerable distress to the Ministry during the evacuation exercise was the siege by Russian forces of the northern Ukrainian city of Sumy, where 100 Ghanaian students and several thousands of foreign nationals took refuge under bomb shelters due to the Russian shelling of the city, she said.

However, following the agreement between the Russian and Ukrainian forces in the middle of March for the creation of a humanitarian corridor for the safe passage of displaced persons and relief agencies, all the Ghanaian citizens successfully made their way to safety largely via Hungry.

A few others escaped through the Russian Federation, Madam Botchwey said, and that there had not been any reported death of a Ghanaian in the crisis.

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