Over 200 Zimbabwean Students Among The Thousands Of African Students Stranded In Ukraine

As the Russian war machines roll through Ukraine, at least 200 Zimbabwean students are reportedly stranded in Ukraine. The students have already sent pleas of evacuation to the Zimbabwe government following the grounding of civilian flights in the conflict-torn nation.

In a vague tweet sent today (24 February), the Zimbabwean ministry of foreign affairs assured everyone that the its embassy in Germany was already coordinating the safety of Zimbabwean citizens inside Ukraine.

However the assurance did not mention whether the students are going to be evacuated or not.

In the follow up thread, the ministry urged the students to contact the Zimbabwean Embassy in Germany on the number: +4903023255676 or email: infor@zimembassyberlin.com.

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Zimbabwe advised the students to find means to flee to Poland

Due to the grounding of civilian flights and other difficulties involved in evacuating our students, Zimbabwe has advised students to flee to Poland using their own means. This has been criticized by many who pointed out that not all students are close to the Ukraine boarder.

Here is a video of Zimbabwe’s ambassador to Germany, Ukraine and Poland advising students to flee to Poland.

Professor Jonathan Moyo is among the people who questioned the decision to have the students evacuate themselves in a warzone.

What of those far from Poland?

Professor Moyo went on to request the government to do more, especially for the "students in Odessa, which is far from Poland, should be evacuated to nearby Moldova!"

One of the students in Odessa, Faith Vundla told Zimlive, via phone, of the dire situation they are in. Vundla, a third-year medical, said the Russian bombs started falling on the city at around 4AM on Thursday.

"We didn’t sleep," she told ZimLive by phone.

She had booked a flight to Zimbabwe for Friday but that was before the Ukrainian airspace was closed to civilian aircraft. Now she is one of the students stranded in the conflict.

According to Vundla, an estimated 30 Zimbabwean students are based in Odessa, with dozens more at universities around Ukraine including the capital, Kyiv, which has also come under bombardment.

Vundla went on to say that a Whatsapp group was created for the stranded students by the embassy. Through the group the embassy adviced the students to find a way to Poland where they can be evacuated. However, she lamented the lack of the required visa as one of the issues being faced by the students.

"The embassy has advised us to get to Poland from where we can be evacuated. The trouble is that to get into Poland you need a Schengen visa which most of us don’t have,” said Vundla.

"The other issue is that travel inside Ukraine itself has become very difficult, it’s more practical to go to a country closest to you and for us here in Odessa, that country is Moldova. There’s no one-size-fits-all solution around it I’m afraid and we desperately need our government to help us."

Currently, Vundla and her friends are gathered in one place as they await further instructions from the Zimbabwe government. As they wait, Russian missiles are continuously raining down on Ukrainian cities.

Thousands of African students are stranded too

The 200 Zimbabwean students are among the thousands of Africans stranded in the Ukraine. Their evacuation options are limited due to the flights being grounded.

"Everyone is under pressure, there have been explosions in different cities, including my city Kyiv," said 23-year-old Nigerian student Sarah Ajifa Idachaba, who is studying medicine in the Ukraine capital along with her older sister.

"Me and my sister are in panic because we don’t know what to expect. We are not safe and we are not sure about leaving here because the airport is shut down," Idachabe told DW, speaking shortly after Russia invaded the country early on Thursday morning.

Ukraine has closed its airspace to civilian flights, including from Kyiv airport, citing the high safety risk.

Whatever is going to happen, we hope for the safety of everyone in Ukraine. War is not the solution. We should always try to find a peaceful way to resolve our differences. We are supposed to be the most civilised species on the planet but when we kill each other we prove the opposite.

Sydney Chako

Mathematics, Chemistry and Physics teacher at Sytech Learning Academy. From Junior Secondary School to Tertiary Level Engineering Mathematics and Engineering Science.


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