Minister for Foreign Affairs, Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey

The Foreign Minister, Shirley Ayokor Botchwey, has refuted claims that the government delayed its nationals’ evacuation from Ukraine.

According to her, before the escalation of unrest in the Ukraine-Russia region, government had entreated Ghanaian students to return to Ghana.

Interacting with parents of nationals yet to be flown into the country, Mrs Ayorkor Botchwey revealed that the government was still in touch with its citizens even when tension escalated in the region.

However, she said, “that was not the time for government to go into evacuation mode.”

“The whole world was watching on tenterhooks what was happening. It all pointed to the fact that even though the country in question was threatening, there were a lot of diplomatic efforts to stop it. This is in reaction to the gentlemen who said what kept us so long.

“We did not keep long. As all other countries did, we were in touch with our compatriots there. Then, more than a week ago, we advised that if you could, please leave. And many students left to come back home,” she stated.

The Foreign Affairs Minister further noted that government glossed over the fact that out of the many nationals in Ukraine, only about 27 Ghanaian students were sponsored by the state to study and has put in measures to evacuate all Ghanaians.

“We have taken the responsibility. We are not saying in any shape or form that because they are there on their own, we will leave them for parents to buy tickets for them. No. I know that many of you have sent your children there privately. Only 27 are government-sponsored students.

But government is saying that as quickly as possible we need to bring them back. It doesn’t matter that they are there on their own. We know that many of the parents here can afford it to bring them back. But we said, no, you just keep your money, this is an unexpected expense.”

Therefore, Mrs Ayorkor Botchwey has urged citizens to be at least appreciative of the efforts being put in by government because “it is doing a lot.”

Meanwhile, the Foreign Affairs Ministry has revealed that parents would have to bear the cost of furthering the education of their wards after the tension between Ukraine and Russia is resolved.

According to her, government is performing its responsibility by ensuring the safety of its citizens.

“Our main preoccupation is to get them out of harm’s way and that is the job of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. So once that is done, I think it is up to the parents to now look at how best they are going to assist their children to continue their education – whether they are going to wait until things calm down and send them back or alternative arrangements are made for them.

“God willing, when things die down, you will be able to send your children back. And that is what a responsible state is doing, and we are doing that.”

On Tuesday, March 1, the first batch of Ghanaian nationals evacuated from Ukraine, including students, arrived at the Kotoka International Airport (KIA) in Accra. About 45 Ghanaians arrived today.

These persons were rescued through neighbouring countries by land due to the shutdown of Ukraine’s airspace since the beginning of the unrest in the country.

We didn't keep long in evacuating Ghanaians from Ukraine - Foreign Minister