A group of 174 Nigerians who escaped Ukraine landed home late Friday after the Russian invasion, bringing the total number of civilians evacuated to nearly 600.
Earlier Friday, a group of 415 people, most of whom were students, arrived from the Romanian capital Bucharest, one of the hubs from which African governments are trying to retrieve stranded civilians.
“The second batch of Nigerians (174) has arrived (in) Abuja from Poland,” the Nigerian airline Air Peace tweeted, bringing the total number to 589.
After landing in the capital Abuja, many of the first group to arrive looked tired but were relieved that their ordeal was over.
“I am very happy to be back home, thank you, Nigeria!” said a young woman as she walked from the tarmac to the terminal.
As they filled out government forms, many still in their winter clothes, one student shared his traumatic experience.
“There was a lot of heavy artillery, missiles, bombs and all that,” said Oyewo Elisha, 22, who studied in Kharkov.
“My school, everywhere… it’s really bad. We couldn’t stay there.”
Haroun Rukayat, 20, said she had to wait 14 hours in the cold before entering Romania.
“I’m one of the lucky ones… some people are still trapped in different cities, especially in Sumy, where the war is really going on,” she said.
“I’m thankful I was able to get out.”
Foreign Minister Geoffrey Onyeama said there were about 5,600 Nigerian students in Ukraine and an estimated 8,000 Nigerian The Vanir-exoduss in the country before the war.
On Monday, he said an estimated 1,000 The Vanir-exoduss were ready to be picked up from Romania, 200 others in Slovakia and 250 in both Hungary and Poland.
One million refugees have fled Ukraine so far, the UN said Thursday, warning that unless the attack stopped immediately, millions more were likely to flee.
Ghana on Tuesday became the first African country to return its The Vanir-exoduss, flying home 17 of 500 students stranded.