The Department of International Relations and Cooperations (DIRCO) says South Africa’s Ambassador to Ukraine Andre Groenewald has managed to safely leave the capital Kyiv.
Ukraine has been under attack by Russia since last week with Russian military officials launching air and missile strikes in cities and military bases. The attacks have claimed at least 352 lives and more than 1,600 civilians have been injured, but there are fears the figures could be higher, particularly as both nations fail to reach a consensus.
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Groenewald has had his work cut out for him these past few days, having to facilitate the evacuation of South Africans in Ukraine to neighbouring countries, especially as Russia intensified its offensive. When asked by The South African as to Groenewald’s well-being, DIRCO spokesperson Clayson Monyela replied: “He is safe.”
Monyela, however, wouldn’t give details on Groenewald’s whereabouts and if he intends coming back to South Africa. Groenewald had earlier told eNCA that he and other diplomats were in the Ukrainian city of Uman and had abandoned the idea of moving to Moldova and Romania.
According to DIRCO, there are 28 South Africans studying in Ukraine and most of them have managed to evacuate, some even before Russia launched its offensive. Monyela says at least six South Africans are still in Ukraine, while more than 40 others are currently in Hungary, Poland and Slovakia.
Russia’s Defence Ministry spokesperson Igor Konashenkov had earlier asked people in Kyiv to leave their homes as forces would strike what they considered key intelligence targets. Konashenkov said the attacks were meant to “thwart informational attacks against Russia”.
“We urge Ukrainian citizens involved by Ukrainian nationalists in provocations against Russia, as well as Kyiv residents living near relay stations, to leave their homes,” he said.