Ghana’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Madam Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey, has debunked unsubstantiated reports that a train conveying some Ghanaian nationals to the eastern part of Ukraine was shot at by the Russian Forces.
She, therefore, urged the media and other political elements in the country to steer off sensationalism and unconfirmed reports that only serve to heighten tensions at this critical period.
“At such delicate times such as this, let us all endeavour to steer clear of sensationalism and unconfirmed reports that only serve to heighten tensions at these times,” she advised.
Ghanaian nationals in Ukraine
Madam Botchwey said this at a media briefing in Accra on Sunday to update the public on the security situation of the Russia-Ukraine conflict and the safety of Ghanaian nationals.
She said Ghana’s Diplomatic Missions in Bern, Ankara, Prague, Moscow and the Vatican were working in a coordinated manner to secure the safety of Ghanaian nationals caught up in the conflict and ensure their evacuation.
The Minister stated that at 1200 hours Sunday, February 27, about 460 students had left Ukraine en route to Poland, Hungary, Romania, Slovakia and Czech Republic and processes were ongoing to evacuate them to Ghana.
She said the students would be received by officials of Ghana’s Diplomatic Missions, Honorary Consuls and Students Associations.
Update on evacuation of Ghanaian nationals
The breakdown of those who had exited Ukraine is as follows: 24 have arrived in Bucharest, Romania and processes are ongoing to procure tickets for them to leave tomorrow (Monday) en route to Accra, 48 were being processed at the holding area, and another 60 going through border formalities.
Thirty-eight had crossed into Poland and are with Ghanaian Diplomatic officials making arrangements for those willing to be assisted to get on flights.
Twenty-five persons en route to Prague from Slovakia were assisted by the Honorary Consul and will be received on entry by the Mission in Prague.
Twenty-five persons also arrived in Hungary this morning and are being sheltered at the Pentecostal Church in Budapest.
“Eighty-Five (85) of our compatriots are being assisted by our Embassy in Moscow to cross the border town of Suny into Russia, which, as indicated earlier, has posed serious difficulties,” Madam Botchwey said.
“These numbers are bound to increase in a few days as we observe the team spirit being displayed by our compatriots, reaching out to each other, setting up group WhatsApp chats, sharing important phone numbers of consular officers and other personalities who could be of assistance and the cascading effects of the initiatives”.
“A most gratifying and heart-warming message ‘We are safe now’, could not have come a better time.”
“We hope for better days as the Ministry further engages our Diplomatic Missions and honorary consulate to extend consular assistance to our compatriots.”
Madam Botchwey said government had also put in place the necessary package to facilitate transportation, accommodation, feeding and medical support to ease any burden on the Ghanaian nationals.
With all the collaborative efforts, 220 Ghanaian nationals had exited Ukraine and should be in Ghana soon and facilitating the safe return of a lot more.
The Minister, however, could not state the specific number of Ghanaians in Ukraine currently since not all residents registered with the Ghana Mission in that country.
“As stated earlier, I have ordered the dispatch of officers of some of our Diplomatic Missions to meet with our citizens who are being evacuated to facilitate the processes and handle any outstanding challenges,” she said.
Madam Botchwey expressed gratitude to the Ghanaian Missions and Honorary Consuls working closely with the Ministry to achieve the desired outcomes.
She also commended all who had offered various forms of assistance such as religious bodies and student groups to complement Government’s efforts in ensuring the safety of the Ghanaian nationals.
UN Security Council
Ghana, as a Non-Permanent Member of the United Nations Security Council, would always support calls for dialogue and peaceful negotiation instead of violence to address the Russia-Ukraine conflict, she said.
The Russian Federation started military operations in Ukraine on February 24, 2022, seeking to take control of that country, and has since witnessed some casualties through bombardments.