Ambassador to Ukraine says SA-led evacuation not possible

Arab students stranded in Ukraine desperate to return home
Thousands of young Arabs who have undertaken studies in Ukraine, often fleeing violence at home, are asking to be saved from a new nightmare – Russia’s full-scale invasion of the country.

More than 10,000 Arab students attend university in Ukraine, drawn to the former Soviet republic by a low cost of living and, for many, the lure of relative safety from their own troubled homelands.

Many blamed their governments for failing to take concrete steps to repatriate them and took refuge in basements or on the subway. Few dared cross the border into neighboring Poland or Romania in search of refuge.

“We left Iraq to escape the war… but it’s the same in Ukraine (today),” Ali Mohammed, an Iraqi student, told AFP by phone from the city. of Chernivtsi, in the west of the country.

Mohammed said he has called the Iraqi embassy in Kyiv a dozen times a day since Russia launched the invasion, but no one has answered.

“We demand to go home. We are waiting to be rescued,” he said. According to an Iraqi government official, there are 5,500 Iraqis in Ukraine, including 450 students.

Syrian Raed Al-Mudaress, 24, echoed him.

“I arrived in Odessa only six months ago, hoping to open a new page away from war,” he told AFP by telephone.

“I’m lost. I don’t know what to do,” he said, adding that he spent most of his time hiding in a basement.

Among Arab countries, Morocco has the highest number of students in Ukraine, with around 8,000 enrolled in universities, followed by Egypt with over 3,000.

“We demand solutions. The authorities must find a solution for us,” to return to Morocco, Majda tweeted at the start of the invasion on Thursday.

“What are you waiting for? It’s World War III,” she said, addressing her country’s authorities, who announced measures the next day.

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