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79 Kenyan students safely evacuated from Ukraine - MFA

People try to get on a bus as they leave Kyiv, Ukraine. [Reuters]

Seventy-nine Kenyan students have safely been evacuated from Ukraine.

Kenya’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs says as of Monday, Feb 28, 2022, the government had negotiated for unrestricted entry of Kenyans into the neighbouring EU states, a request that was honoured by Poland, Slovakia, Hungary and Romania.

This the ministry said would see Kenyans cross their borders via a simplified procedure.

Nairobi in a press dispatch said through its Honorary Consul in Kyiv has been monitoring the developments in Ukraine especially the well-being of its nationals who have been caught up in the conflict.

“We wish to inform you that so far all registered Kenyans in Ukraine are reported safe.  On February 24, 2022, a WhatsApp group “Kenya Evacuation” was created and was joined by approximately one hundred (100) Kenyan students,” the ministry said.

According to the dispatch, members of this group include members of the Kenyan diplomatic corps in various neighbouring countries, officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Nairobi, and student leaders.

The objective is to ensure quick communication to handle the unprecedented situation in Ukraine.

“So far 74 Kenyan students have been evacuated and are in Poland in different cities of Warsaw, Krakovets and Katowice. Two other students are in Romania,” said the Ministry.

The Ministry said while two more students are in Hungary, one has already arrived in the country while four others have shown no interest in leaving Ukraine citing personal reasons.

“Kenya’s Honorary Consul in Kyiv is coordinating the evacuation of Kenyans. Kenyans who are still stranded are encouraged to contact our Honorary Consul on email at [email protected],” read part of the dispatch.

The development comes as the African Union (AU) said it is disturbed by reports that African citizens in Ukraine are being refused the right to cross borders to safety as they try to flee the conflict in Ukraine.

Thousands of African and other foreign nationals, particularly students, have been scrambling to leave Ukraine following Russia's invasion. 

But as hundreds of thousands throng Ukraine's borders, overwhelming authorities in neighbouring countries, reports have emerged that Africans are being treated differently and sometimes prevented from leaving.

Several have shared videos and testimonies on social media, denouncing discrimination at train stations and border posts. Reuters has not been able to authenticate the videos.

"Reports that Africans are singled out for unacceptable dissimilar treatment would be shockingly racist and in breach of international law," AU Chair, Senegal's President Macky Sall, and Moussa Faki Mahamat head of AU Commission said in a joint statement.

The statement added that all people have the right to cross international borders during the conflict, and should enjoy the same rights to cross to safety from the conflict in Ukraine, notwithstanding their nationality or racial identity.

This comes even as Moscow faced increasing isolation on Tuesday as President Vladimir Putin showed no sign of stopping an invasion of Ukraine, where fierce fighting and Russian bombardment have killed dozens and sparked a refugee crisis.