Coordinating evacuations in a vast country like Ukraine comes with difficulties – Gov’t

The Government of Ghana has assured that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, diplomatic mission in Berne as well as the honorary consul are directly engaged with the relevant authorities in Ukraine to ensure the safety and security of all Ghanaians in that country.

At a press conference in Accra on Sunday, February 27, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Shirley Ayorkor Botchway said “We can confirm that an unknown number of Ghanaian Students are reported to have left Ukraine a week or so ago following Bern Mission’s advice as the situation was getting dire.

“The Ghana Mission to Berne issued the statement below, which is also available on the Twitter handle of the Ministry: The Government of Ghana has noted with grave concern the security and safety of our nationals including the over 1000 students in Ukraine following the Russian military operations across that country.

“We urge our nationals to limit their movements in public places as they obtain adequate essential goods and remain in their homes or move to government places of shelter.

“Furthermore, officials of the Ministry held a meeting with the leadership of the Ghana and Ukrainian NUGS to brainstorm on the way forward including plans of evacuation. A list of our students was compiled to facilitate a Government-facilitated evacuation and this information of a possible evacuation was conveyed to the students through our relevant Diplomatic Missions, Honorary Consul and student union leaders, to prepare them for the exercise.

“Having assessed the situation, the students commenced movement by road to the various borders where officials of Ghana’s relevant Diplomatic Missions and Honorary Consuls are on standby to facilitate their passage into countries such as Romania, Poland, Slovakia, Czech Republic and Hungary.
“We need to appreciate the fact that coordinating evacuations in a vast country such as Ukraine with students and Ghanaians spread all over the country comes with difficulties, especially with restricted movement due to curfews, lockdowns etc.

“Officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration have held productive meetings with diplomats of the Russian and Turkish Embassies in Accra to discuss the pathway to an incident-free evacuation exercise. Both meetings resulted in an agreement to facilitate the passage of our compatriots, should the need arise.

“Other meetings were held with the officials of the Scholarship Secretariat and a Ghanaian security institution all in a bid to promote multi-stakeholder engagement towards a successful evacuation of our compatriots.

“The Ministry has requested five European countries bordering Ukraine (Moldova, Poland, Hungary, Romania and Slovakia) to facilitate easy passage into their countries by our compatriots. Fortunately, the Government of Moldova has officially indicated its willingness to facilitate the passage of Foreign Nationals based on a structured exercise.

“Steps are being taken to secure the contact numbers of parents or guardians of our students to enable the Ministry to engage them as we seek to ensure the safety of our compatriots and allay their fears.”

The Government of Ghana is evacuating Ghanaian students to neighboring countries – Moldova, Belarus, Slovakia and Hungary – due to the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

A statement issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration on Friday, February 25 said “The Ministry through its Mission in Berne, Switzerland and the Honourary Consulate in Ukraine are in touch with the Ghanaian students in Ukraine through their leaders.

“A list of students has been compiled to facilitate an evacuation exercise.”

The National Union of Ghana Students (NUGS) had maintained that evacuating Ghanaian students from Ukraine is the single most effective response to the conflict.

In a petition to the government on Friday February 25, NUGS said “We, therefore, make the following recommendations which must all be geared ultimately towards evacuation, Parliament should direct and supervise our mission in Switzerland through the Ministry of
Foreign Affairs to take immediate steps to make food, water and sanitary materials available to students while preparing for evacuation is underway.

“The embassy must improve its communication with students and establish formal means of giving out information to reassure the students who are losing hope in our systems.”

Meanwhile, the first batch of Ghanaian students stranded in Ukraine has been safely evacuated to Romania, can confirm.

The students, who were in Chernivtsi, were evacuated as part of arrangements made by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration via Ghana’s Mission in Berne, Switzerland.

The Ministry on Friday night conceded that as a result of the difficulty in airlifting Ghanaian students due to a shutdown of Ukrainian airspace, arrangements were rather made the evacuation be by land through neighbouring Moldova, Belarus, Slovakia and Hungary.

So far, those in Romania will be taken care of by the Romanian government as per the arrangements made by the Foreign Ministry.

Another batch is on its way to Hungary while a bus will be available on Monday to take the remaining to Poland, whose border is said to be choked.

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