Lolade Lawal’s life has been turned the other way up in a means she by no means imagined.
The third-year medical pupil from Nigeria is coming to phrases with the consequences of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine that began final week.
“It’s scary, very scary. I’m very apprehensive. Individuals are operating for his or her lives. We’re hiding in teams so we are able to regulate one another,” Lawal informed Al Jazeera over the cellphone as she sheltered with different college students at a protected bunker within the northeastern metropolis of Sumy.
Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered what he mentioned was a “particular army operation” towards Ukraine on Thursday. A full-scale invasion adopted, with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy declaring martial regulation, saying his nation would defend itself.
On Saturday, preventing reached the streets of Ukraine’s capital Kyiv as Russian troops pressed forward.
In response to the US army, Russia now has at the least 50 p.c of its estimated 150,000-strong invasion forces in Ukraine.
The battle has up to now killed greater than 200 civilians, together with three kids. Almost 1,100 have been injured within the battle, together with 33 kids, based on Ukraine’s well being ministry.
The United Nations estimates greater than 100,000 folks have been displaced inside the nation for the reason that battle began.
“There’s no escape. Trains have stopped working. Most supermarkets are closed and people which might be opened are operating very low on meals shares. ATMs will not be working and everyone seems to be desperately on the lookout for cash,” Lawal mentioned, as sirens went off within the background.
There aren’t any official figures on the variety of African college students at present finding out in Ukraine however Lawal mentioned “there are a whole lot of us in our metropolis”.
“At my college, there are about 100 Nigerian college students. I’m sheltering with a few of them,” Lawal added.
Some college students have managed to cross the border into Poland.
“I stay in Kyiv. I’ve been dwelling right here since March final 12 months,” Somto Orah, a pupil at State College of Telecommunications in Kyiv, informed Al Jazeera.
“Now we have acquired no assist from any authorities authorities. The varsity solely gave us bomb shelter to cover when the air raid siren is on. The sirens got here on and off for about 5 instances yesterday earlier than I left,” Orah, a Nigerian nationwide, added.
“There’s little meals. I couldn’t entry money for 2 days now. Each ATM on the street has no money.”
Others have had even much less luck.
Samuel George, a first-year software program engineering pupil, fled Kyiv after the shelling and sirens bought an excessive amount of for him to deal with.
“I drove from Kyiv. We are attempting to outlive. We don’t wish to die in another country,” George mentioned.
As he neared the Polish border, Samuel’s luck ran out. He mentioned he had a minor street accident with a automobile carrying Ukrainians as a result of the street was slender.
He mentioned they took his cash and stopped him from driving any additional.
“They don’t seem to be officers, police or army. They’re regular residents who stopped us Africans from driving to the border. They let Ukrainians go by way of however not us,” George mentioned.
“I’m now strolling to the border. I’ve no different choice. I don’t understand how a lot additional the border is. They even took our cash. It’s like they don’t seem to be human beings,” George mentioned, including that he may now not discuss on the cellphone as a result of his fingers had been freezing within the sub-zero temperature.
On Saturday, the Polish Ministry of Inside Affairs mentioned greater than 115,000 folks had crossed into Poland from Ukraine, including that everybody from Ukraine was allowed to enter, even these with out a legitimate passport.
However for Somto and a number of other different college students, crossing the border into Poland has not been straightforward.
“I can be heading to Nigeria from Poland if I’m capable of cross. But when I see a faculty provide round Schengen, I’ll take it up as a result of I don’t need my college life to be disrupted,” he mentioned as he joined the queue on the border gate.