Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Federal Government Considers Evacuation Of Nigerian Citizens From Ukraine

The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Viola Onwuliri, has said that her agency is closely monitoring the situation in Ukraine and will evacuate Nigerians from the country if the crisis deepens.

She made this known to reporters during a dinner for workers in the MFA in Abuja on Tuesday.

Nearly 100 people week killed in anti-government protests in Ukraine's capital Kyiv. The February 22 ousting of President Viktor Yanukovich and Russia's seizure of control in Ukraine's Crimea peninsula have prompted the most serious confrontation between Moscow and the West since the end of the Cold War.

Western governments have been alarmed at the possibility that Russia may also move into eastern and southern Ukraine, home to many Russian speakers, which Putin did not rule out.

Onwuliri said there are some 7,000 Nigerians in Ukraine. At least 5000 of them study in tertiary institutions across the country and 170 Nigerians study in Crimea.

"The Nigerian Embassy in Ukraine is in touch with our nationals in Ukraine and if the situation demands, we may have to evacuate," the minister said.

On the presence of Russian forces in Ukraine’s Crimea, Onwuliri said that Nigeria is a "non-aligned nation" and does not support any party in the ongoing dispute.

Earlier this week, Nigeria’s Permanent Representative to the UN, Joy Ogwu, described the situation in Ukraine as "precarious" and called on the parties to seek peaceful resolution to the problem.

Boko Harama and improving cooperation with Cameroon

Commenting on insurgency in the North-East states, Onwuliri said Nigeria was in contact with Cameroon to improve cooperation on combating terrorism.

Last week Nigeria closed hundreds of miles (kilometres) of its north-eastern border with Cameroon to stop Boko Haram insurgents using the country as a launch pad for attacks.

"No country wants its territory to be challenged by terrorism but for us as a nation, we have taken additional steps and we are discussing with Cameroon," she said. "When we feel worried, we call them [Cameroonian embassy] in to talk so that they can relay our anxieties to their government," the minister aded.

Yesterday President Goodluck Jonathan said Cameroon was not willing to cooperate and allow cross-border pursuit of Boko Haram terrorists who supposedly return to Cameroon after attacks in Nigeria.

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