FILE: Nigerian students that arrived from Ukraine earlier today, at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja. PHOTO: Gbemiga Olamikan.
The evacuation of Nigerian students stuck in Sumy, a troubled city in north-east Ukraine, has begun, Nigerians in Diaspora Commission, NIDCOM, said yesterday.
In a tweet yesterday, the NIDCOM posted video of students on transit to Lviv, a city in western Ukraine. The commission tweeted Wednesday,”now on a train to Lviv.”
A Google map search shows that Lviv is around 70 kilometers from the border with Poland.
Vanguard had on Tuesday reported how over 300 Nigerian students were stuck in Sumy, a Ukrainian city that shares borders with Poland, but has suffered repeated bombings.
Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, said on his official Twitter page he was “delighted and mightily relieved that the evacuation of our Nigerian students from Sumy has commenced.”
“They are in our thoughts and prayers as they undertake the very long and hazardous trip to safety,” the minister tweeted. Onyeama had said the major challenge to the evacuation is how to transport the students out of Sumy.It is unclear where the students were headed from Ukraine and when they’ll be evacuated to Nigeria. The bombings left part of the city without electricity and water. Both foreigners and Ukrainians are caught in the crossfire; making underground bunkers their homes until they can safely move out.
Moscow says it has found biological weapons in Ukraine, US dismisses claims
Russia says it has uncovered a military biological weapons programme in Ukraine, claims described by the United States as “absurd propaganda”.
Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, Kremlin spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told reporters: “We can conclude that in Ukrainian laboratories close to our borders, components of biological weapons were being developed.
“The urgent destruction of these materials was ordered in order not to disclose the materials and the programmes that were being made there.”
It involved deadly pathogens including plague and anthrax, she said.
Moscow called on Washington to explain “Ukrainian biological weapons labs”.Igor Konashenkov, chief spokesman of the Russian Defence Ministry, said: “It is obvious that in the wake of the special military operation, the Pentagon started having serious concerns about secret biological experiments uncovered on the Ukrainian territory.
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“The uncovered documents confirm that components for chemical weapons were developed in Ukrainian bio-labs in immediate proximity to Russia.”
However, a US official dismissed the claim as “absurd propaganda” and accused Russia of seeking retroactive pretexts for the war.
The European Union said it doubted the credibility of Russian claims, saying Moscow had a history of spreading disinformation about biological weapons.“The credibility of information provided by Kremlin is in general very doubtful and low,” EU foreign affairs spokesman Peter Stano said.
“Russian disinformation has a track record of promoting manipulative narratives about biological weapons and alleged ‘secret labs’.”
He added the EU was not aware of any Ukrainian laboratories not in line with international law.
A Ukrainian presidential spokesperson said: “Ukraine strictly denies any such allegation.”
Lavrov arrives in Turkey for talks with Ukrainian counterpartRussia’s Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov has landed in Antalya ahead of planned talks with Dmytro Kuleba on Thursday (today).
The meeting would be the first between the nations’ top diplomats since Russia invaded Ukraine two weeks ago.
Maternity hospital hit by Russian air strike
A maternity hospital in the southern port city of Mariupol has been hit by a Russian air strike, Ukraine said yesterday.
President Volodymyr Zelensky said people were trapped under the wreckage, and called on Western leaders to impose a no-fly zone.
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He also posted footage apparently from inside the hospital, which appeared badly damaged.
A regional official told Ukrainian media that at least 17 people were injured, including staff and patients.
Vatican calls Mariupol hospital bombing ‘unacceptable’
A top Holy See official has condemned the reported bombing of a children’s and maternity hospital in Mariupol as “unacceptable”.
Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican’s Secretary of State, told reporters: “I say bombing a hospital is unacceptable. There are no reasons, there are no motivations, to do this.”
The Vatican has offered itself up as an intermediary in Russia’s war on Ukraine.
Reuters reports that Pope Francis broke with diplomatic protocol last Friday and paid a visit to the local Russian embassy to relay his concerns about the invasion.
Absent UK soldiers may have travelled to Ukraine — Army
A small number of British soldiers have disobeyed orders and may have travelled to Ukraine to fight, the British Army has confirmed.
The soldiers were absent without leave and may have gone to Ukraine “in a personal capacity”, the Army said.
“We are actively and strongly encouraging them to return to the UK,” a spokesperson added.
All service personnel are banned from travelling to Ukraine until further notice.
China hopes meeting in Turkey will defuse tensions
China hopes that the Turkish-hosted meeting of Russian and Ukrainian foreign ministers later this week will contribute to an early settlement of the Ukrainian crisis and a reduction of tensions.
The tensions are between Moscow and Kiev, Chinese Foreign Ministry’s spokesman, Zhao Lijian, said yesterday.
On Tuesday, Russian Foreign Ministry’s spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova, said that Russian Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, was scheduled to take part in the diplomacy forum in Antalya yesterday.He is expected to meet for talks with Ukrainian Foreign Minister, Dmytro Kuleba, with the mediation of Turkish Foreign Minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu. Kuleba clarified later that the meeting would be held on Thursday.
UN-POLAC calls for cease fire
The United Nations Positive Livelihood Award Centre, UN- POLAC, Lagos, has called on the warring nation of Russia and Ukraine to cease fire and embrace peace.
Fielding questions from newsmen as the foundation donated over 3000 exercise books to students of the University of Lagos ,UNILAG International School, Regional Advisor of the foundation in South West region, Dr. Josiah Chukwuma said: “We advice the warring nations of Russia and Ukraine to cease fire and continue to pursue peace by all means. It may take some time, but with God, all things are possible. Those at the top of the issue should drop their weapon and strive for peace.
“Our duty is to build peace among nations, children and generations yet unborn. Our dream is to establish peace and make Nigeria and the rest of the world a peaceful place as planned by the United Nations”.
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On her part, UN- POLAC Director of Programmes, Patricia Agu added that: “What initiated the gesture is centred on the aim and objective of UN to promote peace through workshops, investing in education, and environment. As long as it would bring about peace, we embark on it.
Ukrainian refugees face tougher border controls in HungaryAdditional controls by the Hungarian border police have led to waiting times of several hours for refugees fleeing the war in Ukraine.
On Wednesday the Romanian radio station Digi24 reported that there were queues of cars several kilometres long formed at the crossing points of the Romanian-Hungarian border.
However, the refugees were not being turned away by Hungary.
The day before the Romanian border guards said their Hungarian counterparts had officially announced longer waiting times.
Hungary wanted to check those Ukrainians who did not have biometric passports more closely, they said.
The Hungarian authorities announced several days ago that Ukrainians without the correct documents could be stopped at the border and taken away for further questioning.
Tens of thousands of Ukrainians are fleeing to Romania and from there on via Hungary towards Western Europe.
Among them were children who do not have biometric passports, as well as elderly people who normally rarely travel abroad, a dpa reporter observed at the Romanian-Ukrainian border.
Romania issues replacement passports to these people, even before the refugees reach a neighbouring country.
They often have to wait for hours at the Ukrainian border crossings because the authorities of their home country want to prevent able-bodied men from leaving.
At the Hungarian-Romanian border crossings, border police from both countries check documentation together.
Unlike Hungary, Romania is not part of the EU’s border control-free Schengen area.
Earlier, the EU states unanimously decided that the vast majority of war refugees from Ukraine should be granted protection quickly and without complications.
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