The ongoing Russian military invasion of Ukraine, which officially began on February 24 after years of escalating hostility, has affected the world.
While it is worthy of note that it is not the first military engagement in modern history, its location and geopolitical significance have made it highly consequential.
Thus, the conversation around it has continued to dominate news platforms, social media, and almost all aspects of human interaction.
As events unfold very quickly, the influx of information is overwhelming and affects global politics, economy, humanitarian concern, business, hospitality, sport, and many other areas of life.
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For Nigerians, our interest in the happenings in Ukraine is spurred by a desire to keep up with what is happening globally. In addition, about 4,000 Nigerians were studying in Ukraine before the war broke out, this is according to the ministry of international affairs.
Many other Nigerians live and work in Ukraine, making the terrible situation a source of concern to Nigerians at home and around the world.
There were earlier reports of Nigerian students stuck in Ukraine, raising apprehension among their family members and friends in Nigeria. This was followed by news of abandonment by the Nigerian authorities. Then there were reports of the ministry of foreign affairs making arrangements to help Nigerians from Poland back to the country.
This was soon replaced with videos and pictures of Nigerians reportedly facing racial discrimination in the hands of Ukrainian border security who allegedly prevented them from crossing over to Poland, accessing buses and shelter centres, etc. The avalanche of news has been overwhelming.
Social media has played a huge part in helping to keep the world abreast of what is happening in real-time. Pictures, audio-visual content, live feeds have helped to keep many all over the world informed.
However, some of the information spread across social media, particularly pictures and videos are sometimes false, misleading, exaggerated or out of context. Without proper knowledge of fact-checking information, it is easy to fall into the pit of fake news. What this does is that it creates a false knowledge of what is happening in Ukraine. Without access to proper information, for example, one can be misled and this can cause panic.
Sieving through information on social media is hard because sometimes, they are expertly disguised. Some news media have fallen victim to broadcasting pictures and videos of what happened elsewhere to depict what is happening in Ukraine. Case in point, a picture of an explosion that happened in Palestine was shared on Twitter and reported to be an incident in Ukraine. This of course received thousands of retweets and comments from users.
At a time like this, it is important to double-check every piece of information to have a true grasp of the situation rather than make Nigerians with families or acquaintances in Ukraine constantly worry about false and devastating news of the casualties witnessed in the city.
For those who want to provide humanitarian assistance to victims of the war, it is important to get actual information on how and where it can be provided.
For example, CNN provides periodic information on how to help those escaping from Ukraine. Africanews (channel 417 on DStv) provides African-focused information about the war in Ukraine with a spotlight on Africans in the country.
Aljazeera also does a good job of not only providing a general overview of the situation in Ukraine but also putting out a special edition on how it affects the Middle East and North-African countries.
The BBC World News has so far done brilliantly in interviewing Nigerians in Ukraine and calling attention to their plight. Channels TV and Arise News are also providing quality information that has been verified before dissemination.
Sticking to accurate news platforms during this period is very important to get a clear picture of how things are unfolding to make well-informed decisions rather than instilling fear in others.