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Rwandans in Ukraine urged to reach border to get help

Thursday March 03 2022
Ukraine refugees.

Refugees from Ukraine gather to take a bus from the border crossing in Medyka to Przemysl, eastern Poland on February 28, 2022. PHOTO | WOJTEK RADWANSKI | AFP

By ANGE ILIZA

Rwandans in Ukraine who have reached the Polish border will be facilitated to cross into Poland and given a safe haven in the country.

Through diplomatic talks, Rwanda has established a post in Medyka on the Ukraine-Poland border, where its citizens will be facilitated to cross into Poland.

The country, however, will only help those who make it to the border. The Government Deputy Spokesperson says there are no means to help Rwandans who are stranded inside Ukraine.

The announcement comes following an outcry by Rwandan students in Ukraine who said they were stranded in unsafe zones with no food and no means to flee.

There were 86 Rwandans in Ukraine according to Deputy Government Spokesperson Alain Mukuralinda, and 51 of them have been evacuated to Poland and Hungary. Fifteen are still stranded in war zones in Ukraine.

Mukuralinda told journalists on Tuesday that Rwanda’s embassy is in contact with 11 other citizens who are making their way to the Ukrainian border with Poland, while nine others were already at the border waiting to cross.

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Some family members with relatives in Ukraine took to Twitter and urged officials to help Rwandan students in the country.

“We have some students that are still stuck in Sumy (a city in north-eastern Ukraine) with limited resources, no food, and no transportation to get them to safety. Others have travelled over 70 km from Lviv to the Poland border by foot.

“They are enduring discrimination and are not getting the help they desperately need. After spending days at the border unable to achieve safe passage, some decided to return to Lviv to seek warm shelter, food, and means to communicate with their loved ones,” Cynthia Kagambirwa said on Twitter in a letter addressed to President Kagame.

Her brother is stranded in Sumy.

According to officials, students who are still in Ukraine will be in touch with the embassy and facilitated through their respective universities. There are no plans yet to evacuate them.

“Those who are stuck in war zones will have to live like other Ukrainians there; hide from bombs in basements and stay away from risky spots. So far, no Rwandan has been reported dead or injured,” Mr Mukuralinda said.

He added that those who fled to Poland only have two weeks to stay there. They will have to either travel to their home countries, family members, hotels, or other countries. He said that by the end of Tuesday, a large number of Rwandans will have left Ukraine.

Mr Mukuralinda added that the government is working with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the embassy of Rwanda in Poland to coordinate with Rwandans stranded in war zones, some of whom are stranded because they either can’t afford to travel or cannot access their money in banks. 

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