By Nathaniel Nartey
The Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey says the government will focus efforts on evacuating only Ghanaians interested in returning home from Ukraine following the arrival of the first batch of 17 students. This is in response to videos circulating online of some Ghanaians in Ukraine saying they are not interested in returning home despite the war.
Speaking at a meeting with parents and relatives of Ghanaian Nationals in Ukraine yet to be evacuated, Madam Ayorkor Botchwey said two groups of 70 and 64 students in different batches are expected to arrive later in the week.
“The Government of Ghana is ready to evacuate all the five hundred and twenty-seven (527) of our citizens in a coordinated manner. Indeed, it is heart-warming that, out of the numbers mentioned, the first batch of 17 of our compatriots, who are students, arrived home this morning from Romania on board Qatar Airlines. Two other batches from Romania in different groups of 70 and 64, respectively are expected to arrive later this week”.
He went on to say that, “with all the collaborative efforts, I am pleased to inform you that as at 17:00hrs on 28th February, 2022, an estimated number of five hundred and twenty-seven (527) Ghanaian nationals had crossed the Ukrainian border to various European countries and they will soon be with us in Ghana as long as they are willing to be evacuated at no cost to them”.
It was no surprise that the first question from the long queue of parents and relatives centered on the claims of racial discrimination meted out to Ghanaian and African students crossing the Ukrainian border to Romania. Madam Ayorkor Botchwey said she officially complained to the Ukrainian Ambassador to Nigeria with oversight in Ghana which yielded positive results.
“The Ukrainians said the women and children were being allowed to leave so it is probably the reason why (the Ghanaian students felt racially discriminated against). Immediately these videos started circulating, I myself called the Ukrainian Embassy to Ghana which is in Abuja-Nigeria. I told them that I am calling to complain. I am told that because of the complaint we made officially the country Slovakia decided to go through the queue and hand-pick the Ghanaians for assistance”.
There were also concerns about a supposed delay in government intervention to evacuate Ghanaians trapped following the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The Foreign Affairs Minister Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey disagreed.
”We did not keep long(with the intervention) like all other countries there, we were in touch with our compatriots there”, according to the Foreign Affairs Minister, as she responded to questions from Parents and Relatives of Ghanaian Students, yet to be evacuated from Ukraine.