FOREIGN Affairs and International Cooperation Minister Stanley Kakubo says about 27 Zambians have opted to remain in Ukraine.

Giving an update on the evacuation of Zambians in Ukraine, Monday, Kakubo said 18 students were in transit to the Polish border.

“At the border on the Polish side, our staff from the Zambian embassy in Berlin in Germany and the Honorary Consul to Poland have secured buses to shuttle our nationals as and when they arrive into Poland. Further, a conducive facility has been organised by the Polish authorities to serve as a transit point for our nationals before being transported to Warsaw Poland. In Warsaw, your government is providing our children with a conducive safe environment and comfortable accommodation including warm meals and other necessities. In the last 24 hours, our students who are gathered in Lyviv, as guided by the government, were transported by bus closer to the border within a period of three hours and facilitation has been done for them to cross. Government therefore encourages those students who are still in transit to ensure that they proceed to the rendezvous in the Lyviv for easier movement and processing through the border facilities,” he said.

“At this moment, the current breakdown of our nationals in Ukraine is as follows: out of the 141 known Zambians in Ukraine, there are indications that 27 of our nationals, predominantly former students, have opted to remain in that country, having integrated in the Ukrainian society over a number of years. 14 are still in Sumy, it is important to note that movement around this city has been curtailed, in this regard, the Zambian Embassy together with the SADC group in Moscow is actively engaging the Russian government to create a safe passage for our students in Sumy through Russia. We are also engaging them to provide necessities such as water and food. Three students are still in Kyviv, 21 students are still in Lyviv awaiting movement to the border abroad transport that is being provided by the Zambian government. 18 of our students are in transit as we speak towards the Polish border.”

He said the situation in Ukraine remained unpredictable and complex.

“The situation in Ukraine remains very unpredictable and complex. Throughout this evacuation exercise, we have been faced with various challenges which include the following: our nationals who opt not to use government organised transport are still being dropped off 20 kilometres from the border due to heavy traffic congestion. We also note that there are multiple checkpoints to get through before one reaches the border which is why government is emphasising that our students use designated transport that has been organised by the Zambian government, this is to ease the process of movement as we are receiving relatively preferential treatment using the buses that have been designated,” Kakubo said.

Kakubo said government had targeted to evacuate Zambian nationals by Friday.

“Despite these many challenges and hurdles and unforeseen delays, the government remains absolutely confident that our nationals will be evacuated safely back home to Zambia. First of all, we do have a target as government to see if we can get in our children by Friday. Suffice to mention that we don’t want to leave anyone behind and as circumstances are changing constantly, we are dealing with a situation of war outside our borders, so situations change, circumstances are changing. We envisage that by Friday, all of our children if not the majority of them will be home,” said Kakubo.