Failure of Africans to register with their Missions abroad makes it difficult to access help – BBC’s Peter Okwoche

Presenter of the BBC Focus on Africa, Peter Okwoche, has disclosed that a lot of Africans do not register with their countries Embassies or High Commissions when they travel abroad thereby making it difficult for the governments to know the exact number of their citizens in those countries.

“I, myself, I am guilty of it. I have been in the UK now for 18 years. I have never gone to register myself with the Nigerian High Commission here. I’ve gone there to renew my passport so they might have some kind of record but if it comes to a census, I have not gone there to be part of a census,” he said.

Okwoche commended the Zimbabwe Ambassador, whom he described as a formidable woman for her standing in subzero temperature waiting to evacuate her citizens.

“She said she suspects there are between two hundred and five hundred Zimbabweans in Ukraine, and the reason why she doesn’t have the exact number is that a lot of Africans when they travel, they don’t want to go and register with their Embassies and High Commissions so the officials there have no idea whether you are living in the country or not”.

He explained to 3FM Sunrise Morning Show hosts, Alfred Ocansey and Helen Ampafo on Friday 6 May 2022 that this phenomenon undermines the opportunity for the diplomatic missions abroad to extend support to their citizens in times of distress or crises such as the Ukraine Russia conflict.

“The hands of these governments were tied in a particular and peculiar way. You guys know me, I am not an apologist for any African government. I hold them to account, but this narrative that they were not out there doing anything was completely false. At least, these five or so countries that I witnessed there were doing their best under very very difficult circumstances” Peter Okwoche emphasised    

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Peter debunked the notion that the African embassies and diplomats in Ukraine and neighbouring countries did not show much interest and support to their citizens trapped in the Ukraine Russia conflict.

“Before I went to Poland, the narrative was very bad on social media that the African leaders were not doing enough to get their students out of Ukraine. When I finally got to the Polish Border, you now realized that that social media narrative wasn’t true. The Nigerian ambassador had been at the border where I was for three days. He did a 18 hour ground trip just to get to the boarder to get some Nigerian students out of the boarder” Peter expressed

He recounted some of the horroring experiences some Africans went through, a Nigerian female student and her colleagues who had to walk for 12 hours in subzero temperature because the Ukrainian soldiers wouldn’t allow them to board the train.

Peter Okwoche was giving some insight into his documentary for the BBC Africa Eye dubbed ‘Not Our war’ on 3FM an Accra based radio station in Ghana.

By Samuel Afriyie Owusu||Ghana


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