As the war between Russia and Ukraine continues, some Nigerians who fled the conflict regions to neighboring Poland have not been seen in Poland or elsewhere.
Five Nigerians were reportedly declared missing after their friends with whom they fled Ukraine could not find them or reach them on their cell phones.
Azeezat Aina, a Nigerian student in Poland, exclusively told Pulse that no one has seen or heard from the missing since Tuesday, March 1, 2022.
She added that none of the people currently housed in Poland have said anything about not being seen yet.
According to her, it was easy to notice that someone was missing because the people who fled Ukraine to neighboring countries traveled in groups.
“They travel in groups, so if one person is missing, they will probably be able to notice. They might travel in groups of five or six, and once they reach the other side, someone will ask: Are they complete? Are they waiting for someone? In the process, they’ll find out that person is missing; they haven’t crossed the border yet and they can’t make a phone call, but WhatsApp goes through. They can chat,” she explained.
Aina said efforts were made to search for the missing people by showing people their pictures and asking them if they met or recognized the faces of the missing Nigerians.
According to her, the search team was able to find three people who had previously been reported missing by posting their photos.
“We just post their photos and ask who saw these people. In this way, we were able to locate three of the five missing people,” she said.
“But we haven’t heard from those five people yet, and no one has said they’ve seen them.”
It could not be immediately confirmed if all the missing Nigerians were students, as Aina was also on her way Tuesday night to meet her cousin studying in Ukraine at the Polish border.
Akpesiri Stephanie Asama, a first-year medical student at Ternopil Medical University, is believed to be one of the missing Nigerians. She was last seen at the Polish border in Medyka.
However, an Instagram page set up for the purpose of spreading information about Nigerians who have fled Ukraine is showing pictures of some Nigerians who have been reported missing since the war began.
On Tuesday, Danobong Martin Akpan, a Nigerian student in Ukraine, was reported missing on the site, but a commenter under the post said Akpan’s parents had been able to reach him.
Another post on the page showed a picture of a Nigerian student named Mukhtar who fainted while trying to cross into Poland at the border in Medyka.
The post said the student lost his cell phone as he was taken by ambulance from the border to a hospital.
While hundreds of Nigerians have crossed the Ukrainian border into Poland and other neighboring countries, 16,000 African students, most of them Nigerians and Moroccans, are still stuck in Ukraine, according to Aljazeera.
At least two foreign students from Algeria and India have reportedly been killed in Russian attacks in the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv.
The United Nations reports that more than half a million people have fled Ukraine since the war began.
Meanwhile, Nigeria’s federal government has pledged to begin evacuating Nigerians from war zones starting Wednesday, March 2, 2022.
Foreign Affairs Minister Geoffrey Onyeama made this known in an interview on Channels Television’s Politics Today program on Monday, February 28, 2022, saying President Muhammadu Buhari has approved funds for airlines to evacuate Nigerians.