Home » Press TV » Ukraine: 368 Nigerian Students Trapped, Sent Distress Messages: “the students had to risk stepping outside, despite continuous shelling and in sub-zero temperatures to gather snow and ice for basic needs”

Ukraine: 368 Nigerian Students Trapped, Sent Distress Messages: “the students had to risk stepping outside, despite continuous shelling and in sub-zero temperatures to gather snow and ice for basic needs”


Ukraine: 368 trapped Nigerian students drink, cook with snow, ice.

No fewer than 368 Nigerian students still trapped in Sumy State University (SumDU), Ukraine, are now drinking and cooking with ice and snow following water shortage in the city of Sumy.

They are part of the over 800 international students hiding in bunkers at hostel 3 in SumDU.

They told newsmen that their water supply was disrupted and the city plunged into darkness since March 3, when bombs destroyed a water plant and power substation serving the northeastern Ukrainian city.

The country has seen heavy fighting following a Russian invasion on February 24 and Sumy is facing heavy shelling by Russian forces.

Sumy is approximately 48km from the Russian border – an area surrounded by conflict – and the bombings were reported to have resumed there at about 6am on Saturday morning.

But it was learnt that the students had to risk stepping outside – despite continuous shelling – and in sub-zero temperatures to gather snow and ice for basic needs.

“People had to use snow to cook food because there was no water,” said first-year medical student Emmanuella Oiza.

Oiza, 17, told The Nation that she and the other students could hear the bombings from their hiding place.

She said: “The bombings are audible from everywhere in the city. We hide in bunkers.

“We heard some sounds although it’s not near the hostel we’re in and due to the bomb the day before yesterday, our light and water were cut off.

“We had to trek to another hostel which is closer to the city centre to get light because no light means no data connection.

“In this hostel there’s light but no water and the population increased drastically today (Saturday) and yesterday (Friday). More than half of the population of hostel 4 and 5 are in this hostel which is hostel 3.

“So it’s congested; no bed space, the toilets aren’t working so everywhere smells and it’s just tiring. It doesn’t help that it’s really cold and snowing at this point.”

Oiza said many of the Nigerians are medical students while others are studying computer science, management and other courses.

Most of the others are from Tanzania (159), Ghana (150), Zimbabwe (18), Zambia (14), Morocco (12), Namibia (4), Angola (4), South Africa (2), and Botswana (1).

Others are from Ethiopia, Rwanda, Ireland, India, Lebanon and Turkey.

The Nation learnt that all routes out of Sumy are blocked with trains and buses no longer running. Roads and bridges have also been bombed, with fighting reported in the streets.

But some are sometimes lucky to leave the city by taxis.

Oiza said: “As for taxis, hardly anyone is willing to move. If they’re moving they take only four or three people, and they’re calling outrageous prices for transportation just out of Sumy to Poltava, a neighbouring state.

“Taxis was $500 or more per student. I have a friend that booked a cab on Thursday to move on Friday but when Friday came, the cab guy picked someone who paid extra money.”


Friday, 630 Nigerians including three infants stranded in Ukraine arrived at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, in two batches.

This followed President Muhammadu Buhari’s approval of $8.5 million for the immediate evacuation of at least 5,000 Nigerians fleeing the Ukrainian crisis.

But Oiza and her compatriots are unable to leave because of the violence.

She appealed for help to leave the war-torn country, urging the Nigerian, Ukrainian and Russian governments to negotiate a green corridor so civilians can flee.

“We’ve been waiting for the green corridor,” Oiza said.

A fifth-year medical student, Elkanemi Joseph also pleaded for help in a video sent to journalists.Video Player .

Joseph said: “The situation in Sumy is quite bad. Russian troops have shelled out the city. There’s no way out by road, railway and air. We’re currently in the bunker of our dormitory. I’m pleading with anyone out there to help my university secure a humanitarian corridor to safely evacuate all citizens – both foreign and Ukrainians out of the city to a safe place. Please do all you can to help us.”

Receiving the 630, the director of consular and legal services, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Akinremi Bolaji, told journalists at the Abuja airport that the government was aware of the plight of Nigerians in Sumy.

“We also still have 350 in Sumy College which has been cut off… as soon as we are through with the safe corridor, we will go for those ones,” Bolaji said.

A lecturer in the Management Department, Dr. Tetyana Mayboroda, also appealed for safe passage for the students and civilians.

Currently no light, water, electricity. We appeal for a green corridor for foreign students and civilians,” Mayboroda said in a post on her Twitter feed.

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