Kenyans in Ukraine: Evacuate us too

Ukraine Russia invasion

Cars which were destroyed by recent shelling on the outskirts of Ukraine capital Kyiv on February 28, 2022.

Photo credit: Genya Savilov | AFP

Moving around Ukraine after the Russian invasion has not been easy, Kenyans who live there say.

Changamwe MP Omar Mwinyi, whose daughter is among many Kenyans caught up in the war, said the family was making arrangements to bring her home.

The family said she had left the war-torn country and was in Poland awaiting evacuation back to Kenya.

"The situation in Ukraine is not good. There are places where people cannot walk while in others, people are finding their way out of the country," she said in a conversation with the legislator.

She said she could hear sounds of explosions and gunshots when she was leaving Ukraine for Poland. She and others walked more than 10km to escape.

"We have already crossed into Poland, but we are yet to get accommodation. We cannot be admitted in the nearby hotel because we have been told it is exclusively for Ukrainians," she said.

"We have been told to proceed to Warsaw, where there is accommodation for other foreigner nationals," she said, adding that a friend had promised to pick them up and accommodate them pending travel arrangements.

"Only women and children are allowed to leave the country. A man who was leaving together with his wife was dragged back and told to remain behind to defend his motherland. The plea by his wife that she was expectant fell on deaf years," she said.

In the conversation, Mr Mwinyi advised his daughter to stay at the friend's house for at least two days as the family makes travel arrangements.

"We ask the government to at least do something to help the stranded Kenyans. We take them overseas for better education," Mr Mwinyi said.

Separately, other Kenyans, mostly students who shared their predicament in a WhatsApp group seen by the Nation, said they were safe in Poland.

They used the Rava-Ruska and Medyka border crossings into the neighbouring country.

“So far all students, the 39 from Ternopil, the 5 from Kyiv and 8 others from Lviv have crossed into Poland Alhamdulillah. All these students had to walk to the border for more than 7 hours Due to traffic,” said a student by the name Aisha.

“They are currently in different places in Warsaw, Poland. Many of them are trying to get funds out of Poland as they have 15 days to leave. Others that had arrived earlier are down to 11 days.”

Kwale Woman Representative Zuleikha Hassan has also urged the authorities to help repatriate Kenyans from Ukraine.

The MP listed Wachu Mustafa, Hamish Walid, Ahmed Tawakal, Yussuf Mohammed, Mude Suleiman and others as students at Ternopil Medical University stranded in Ukraine.

“These Kenyans are already facing movement challenges occasioned by the closure of airports and face the real possibility of inaccessibility to food supplies and communication platforms via imminent internet restrictions,” the legislator said.