Ukraine sets up emergency hotline for foreign students fleeing invasion

African countries have been scrambling to help citizens living in Ukraine, especially after reports some were mistreated or blocked at the borders

The Ukrainian foreign ministry said it has established an emergency hotline for foreign students who want to flee the country following the Russian invasion.

Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said on Twitter the emergency hotline is for students from “Africa, Asia and other countries” who wish to leave Ukraine.

“We are working intensively to ensure their safety and speed up their passage. Russia must stop its aggression which affects us all,” Mr Kuleba tweeted.

New Delhi denied Russian claims on Thursday that Ukraine was holding Indian students hostage in Kharkiv, instead, they thanked Ukraine for its help in evacuations from the embattled city.

“We note that with the co-operation of the Ukrainian authorities, many students have left Kharkiv yesterday,” Indian foreign ministry spokesman Arindam Bagchi said.

“We have not received any reports of any hostage situation regarding any student."

There were more than 20,000 Indians in Ukraine before Russia launched its attack last week. About 3,000 remain, mostly in Kharkiv.

African countries have also been scrambling to help citizens living in Ukraine who crossed into neighbouring countries, especially after reports that some were mistreated or blocked at the frontier.

Nigeria's government organised an airlift for more than 1,000 stranded citizens. Three jets chartered from local carriers Max Air and Airpeace left on Wednesday, with the capacity to bring back nearly 1,300 from Poland, Romania and Hungary, the foreign ministry said.

Nigeria, Africa's most populous country, has 5,600 students in Ukraine, according to the ministry.

Ghana on Tuesday brought back its first group of 17 out of more than 500 students from Ukraine's neighbouring countries.

Governments from South Africa to the Democratic Republic of Congo are working to help their citizens out, some dispatching diplomats to Ukraine's borders to aid students who complain of being blocked in Ukraine.

The Africa Union on Monday condemned reports Africans had been mistreated and in some cases denied the right to cross Ukraine borders to safety, saying such treatment would be “shockingly racist".

Updated: March 03, 2022, 2:10 PM