The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration has expressed difficulty in making arrangements to fly Ghanaians home from Ukraine amidst an invasion by Russia.
Russia launched a full attack on Ukraine Thursday night, with reports of death tolls exceeding 100 in less than 24 hours.
Stranded Ghanaians, especially students in the eastern European country numbering over 1000, have called for an evacuation.
The Minority in Parliament, the National Union of Ghana Students (NUGS) and other entities have added their voices for a speedy evacuation to prevent loss of lives.
Responding to the development, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey, outlined the government’s challenges and steps to ensure the safety of Ghanaians trapped in the war chaos in Ukraine.
“We are all awaiting what will happen, and for us, this morning, we’re trying to figure out what to do with our nationals who are resident in Ukraine. It is becoming difficult from where we sit to move them, so we need to ensure that they are safe and they are keeping safe. We are engaged very much on this,” Ms Ayorkor Botchwey told the press on Thursday, 24 February 2022.
In a follow-up, the ministry issued a statement indicating that: “The Ghana Diplomatic Mission in Berne, Switzerland, has urged all Ghanaian nationals in Ukraine to limit their movements in public places as they obtain essential goods and to remain in their homes or move to government places of shelter”.
“Our Diplomatic Mission in Berne and our Honorary Consulate are directly engaged with the relevant authorities in Ukraine in an effort to secure the safety and protection of Ghanaian citizens there during this difficult period”.
Commenting on the matter in Parliament, the Minority Leader, Haruna Iddrisu, stated: “We should ensure the swift evacuation of Ghanaian students in Ukraine. This we must do to assure the students and their parents that they are Ghanaians and that they deserve our support. This is a matter of urgent public importance.
“I am indulging you to look at the matter because the Minister of Finance needs to make monies readily available to the Foreign Minister. The situation in Ukraine is very worrying, with imminent war”.
Through the National Union of Ghanaian Students (NUGS), the students made a similar call to the government.
A medical student named Joseph described the current state of affairs as “very bad” and narrated the confused mental state of the students.
“Last night, when I was learning, I heard the first explosion. It was as if it was at the back of our hostel, and we all are living in fear,” he stated. “As of now, we are all in the rooms, but they are saying if you don’t have a shelter, you should move to the underground. If God touches the heart of our government and they evacuate us, we will be very happy”.
The students seem to be short of food and other supplies as they seek refuge and await a decision by the Ghana government.
“Currently, I have two bottles of water and four biscuits which I went out this morning to get. When I got to the shop, it was full, and there were only a few bottles of water. I wanted to buy bread, but they [people] have bought all the bread from the shop; I was so shocked,” he narrated in an interview with Joy FM monitored by theghanareport.com.
What is happening in Ukraine?
Russian forces have launched a military assault on neighbouring Ukraine, crossing its borders and bombing military targets near big cities.
In a televised address, Russia’s President, Vladimir Putin, reportedly ordered a “military operation” in Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region, but what’s been launched goes far further and amounts to a full-scale attack on the country.
Russian military vehicles were said to have breached the border in several places, in the north, south, and east, including from Belarus.
BBC reports that at least seven people are known to have been killed in Russian attacks. Another 19 are missing.
Multiple explosions were heard in the city of Odesa within the past hour.
The Ukrainian president’s office says that more than 40 Ukrainian troops have been killed in Russian shelling, but this has not been independently confirmed.
CCTV images issued by the State Border Guard Service of Ukraine reportedly show Russian military vehicles moving across the border from Crimea.
The Ukrainian armed forces say they have shot down five Russian planes and a helicopter; however, Russia dismissed these claims.
Emergency sirens have sounded in Kyiv, and huge traffic jams have built up as residents flee the city.
Why has Russia attacked Ukraine?
There have been hostilities between Russia and Ukraine after the former became a sovereign state after breaking away from the Soviet Union.
However, in 2021, the situation escalated after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy expressed his desire to US President Joe Biden to approve admission to join NATO.
Russian President Vladimir Putin believes Ukraine is a puppet of the West and allowing a partnership with NATO will give the West access to set up military bases closer to Russia, which could facilitate an attack on Moscow.
Russia has demanded that the West gives a legally binding guarantee that NATO will not hold any military activity in eastern Europe and Ukraine.
Russia further wants Ukraine to desist from any NATO membership.
The new tension between Russia and Ukraine, which also borders the European Union, has political and economic repercussions for the EU.
Consequently, the EU, most of who are NATO signatories, have joined the US in announcing sanctions against Russian entities.