The African students caught in the Russia-Ukraine war | Russia-Ukraine crisis News

Lolade Lawal’s life has been turned the other way up in a manner she by no means imagined.

The third-year medical pupil from Nigeria is coming to phrases with the consequences of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine that began final week.

“It’s scary, very scary. I’m very anxious. Individuals are working for his or her lives. We’re hiding in teams so we are able to keep watch over one another,” Lawal advised Al Jazeera over the cellphone as she sheltered with different college students at a protected bunker within the northeastern metropolis of Sumy.

Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered what he mentioned was a “particular army operation” towards Ukraine on Thursday. A full-scale invasion adopted, with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy declaring martial legislation, saying his nation would defend itself.

On Saturday, combating reached the streets of Ukraine’s capital Kyiv as Russian troops pressed forward.

Based on the US army, Russia now has not less than 50 p.c of its estimated 150,000-strong invasion forces in Ukraine.

The battle has thus far killed greater than 200 civilians, together with three kids. Practically 1,100 have been injured within the battle, together with 33 kids, in keeping with Ukraine’s well being ministry.

The United Nations estimates greater than 100,000 folks have been displaced throughout the nation because the battle began.

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“There’s no escape. Trains have stopped working. Most supermarkets are closed and people which are opened are working very low on meals shares. ATMs usually are not working and everyone seems to be desperately searching for cash,” Lawal mentioned, as sirens went off within the background.

There aren’t any official figures on the variety of African college students presently learning in Ukraine however Lawal mentioned “there are a whole bunch of us in our metropolis”.

“At my college, there are about 100 Nigerian college students. I’m sheltering with a few of them,” Lawal added.

Some college students have managed to cross the border into Poland.

“I dwell in Kyiv. I’ve been dwelling right here since March final yr,” Somto Orah, a pupil at State College of Telecommunications in Kyiv, advised Al Jazeera.

“Now we have acquired no help from any authorities authorities. The college solely gave us bomb shelter to cover when the air raid siren is on. The sirens got here on and off for about 5 occasions yesterday earlier than I left,” Orah, a Nigerian nationwide, added.

“There may be little meals. I couldn’t entry money for 2 days now. Each ATM on the street has no money.”

Others have had even much less luck.

Samuel George, a first-year software program engineering pupil, fled Kyiv after the shelling and sirens received an excessive amount of for him to deal with.

“I drove from Kyiv. We try to outlive. We don’t wish to die abroad,” George mentioned.

As he neared the Polish border, Samuel’s luck ran out. He mentioned he had a minor street accident with a automobile carrying Ukrainians as a result of the street was slim.

He mentioned they took his cash and stopped him from driving any additional.

“They aren’t officers, police or army. They’re regular residents who stopped us Africans from driving to the border. They let Ukrainians cross by means of however not us,” George mentioned.

“I’m now strolling to the border. I’ve no different possibility. I don’t understand how a lot additional the border is. They even took our cash. It’s like they don’t seem to be human beings,” George mentioned, including that he might now not speak on the cellphone as a result of his palms have been freezing within the sub-zero temperature.

On Saturday, the Polish Ministry of Inner Affairs mentioned greater than 115,000 folks had crossed into Poland from Ukraine, including that everybody from Ukraine was allowed to enter, even these with out a legitimate passport.

However for Somto and a number of other different college students, crossing the border into Poland has not been straightforward.

“I shall be heading to Nigeria from Poland if I’m capable of cross. But when I see a college supply round Schengen, I’ll take it up as a result of I don’t need my college life to be disrupted,” he mentioned as he joined the queue on the border gate.

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