DUE to the ongoing armed conflict between Russia and Ukraine, the government of Hungary has waived its Schengen visa requirement to allow Nigerians with Ukrainian resident permits entry, either on transit to Nigeria, or to temporarily reside in the country.
This was contained in a travel advisory released by the Nigerian Embassy in Budapest on Sunday, as part of arrangements by the Nigerian government to evacuate its citizens from Ukraine.
“Affected Nigerian nationals wishing to be admitted into Hungary are advised to have their travel documents (valid Nigerian passport and Ukraine resident permit) with some money in Euros, and cooperate with the Hungarian border authorities.
“Nigerian nationals are also advised to send their names, phone numbers, email addresses and copy of their passport biodata page to the Embassy’s consular email [email protected], to enable the facilitation of the aforementioned arrangements,” the Embassy said.
Schengen refers to the EU passport-free zone that covers most of the European countries and a Schengen visa is a short-stay visa that allows a person to travel to any member of the Schengen Area, staying up to 90 days for tourism or business purposes.
Earlier, there had been reports that Nigerians and other Africans crossing into countries bordering Ukraine, especially the Polish border, were denied access.
On Saturday, a frustrated medical student at the Poland/Ukraine border said she had been waiting for over seven hours to cross the border, and that Ukrainian soldiers were prioritising their citizens and preventing Africans from crossing into Poland.
Confirming this position on Sunday, the Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Gabriel Aduda said that efforts were ongoing to alleviate the sufferings of Nigerians, including deploying the International Organisation for Migration to the border to ensure easier access to all Nigerians and other nationals.
“For now, movement to the Hungarian Zahony border and Romanian Suceava, Tulcea, Satu Mare County and Maramures borders is advised, as they have approved visa free access to all Nigerians coming from Ukraine and arrangements for accommodation and feeding before evacuation is arranged,” Aduda said.
As at Sunday evening, a video taken in one of the three shelters provided showed many persons fleeing Ukraine, including Africans, trying to settle in as they were being welcomed and provided with foods, drinks and beds to sleep.
Aduda urged parents, guardians and wards of Nigerians in Ukraine to remain calm as the ministry continued to perfect plans to get them to safety.
Meanwhile, the Ukrainian capital Kyiv remains in government hands amidst a Russian onslaught that has killed over 200 Ukrainians so far and the UN says more than 120,000 have fled the country in the past 48 hours.