African Students Told To Return To Ukraine Or Risk Not Finishing Their Degrees

Ukrainian education officials have reportedly issued a deadline to the students to sit for exams despite the increasing danger.

After facing discrimination while fleeing Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last year, African students are now being told to return to the warzone or risk not completing their degrees, a petition circulating on states.

“We are calling on your humanity to hear our voices as we face obstacles that threaten our education, our safety, and our future,” Korrine Sky, an activist and the founder of Africans in Ukraine Education Fund, wrote in the petition.

Sky added: “We implore the Ukrainian Ministry of Education and the organisers of the Krok 2 exam, to cancel the exam due to Ukraine being an active war zone. It is an irresponsible and heartless request to ask students to risk their lives by returning to Ukraine to write this exam and renounce all legal rights in case of any harm.”

She tweeted that medical students have a March 14 deadline to return to the capital, Kyiv, for the KROK 2 exam or not receive their diplomas.

Thousands Of African Students Trapped In Ukraine

Sky, who was studying medicine at Dnipro Medical Institute before the invasion, told the The Voice, a British news site, that Ukrainian officials have directed returning African students to sign a documents that says “should they get into any harm, should they be bombed or die, trying to come back to Ukraine, the university is not liable for that.”

Meanwhile, African students who fled to European countries face deportation because their temporary visas will soon expire, Sky stated. They were not considered refugees but “third country nationals.” Sky, who is British and Zimbabwean, returned to the United Kingdom when Russian bombs began falling on Ukraine.

Many of the students have limited options to resume their studies in other countries. In addition to repeating at least two years of their degrees, several students told Reuters that tuition is more than five-times higher in France, Germany and the Netherlands compared to Ukraine. What’s more, Ukrainian universities are withholding their transcripts over unpaid fees, preventing them from transferring to other universities.

In her petition, Sky noted that Ukrainian universities have offered scholarships to financially assist only Ukrainian refugees.

She urged UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization), the E.U. Commission, European universities and all counties and organizations “that care about education” to create support packages and scholarships for African students whose studies were disrupted by the war.

“My solution would be to ask the universities, they have already made scholarships, to make those scholarships available to all who were displaced by the war, as opposed to just making it just for Ukrainian students,” Sky told The Voice. “I think that is very unfair and quite discriminatory.”

There were widespread reports that Ukrainian officials discriminated against people of African descent trying to flee the country at the start of the invasion. They gave preference to Ukrainians in the scramble for space on trains leaving the country.

Twenty-four Jamaican students studying in Ukraine were among the mass exodus from the country. Three of them shared their experience last year with Jamaican media, including one student who was reportedly forced off a train by a Ukrainian at gunpoint.

African Nations Condemn Racism Against African Students Attempting To Escape Ukraine

African nations demanded an immediate halt to discrimination against their citizens. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi said the agency observed instances of discrimination at the border.

The outcry apparently prompted Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba to tweet, “Africans seeking evacuation are our friends and need to have equal opportunities to return to their home countries safely.”

Sky told The Voice that many of the 2,000 African students she’s in touch with continue to face racism in Ukraine.

“They are sharing videos of what is happening right now and they are still experiencing aggression and violence at the borders,” she said.

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