Muhammad, like thousands of others, fled with the outbreak of war in Ukraine, more than a week ago, towards neighboring countries, hoping to find a safe haven.
Before the outbreak of the war, there were thousands of Egyptian students studying at several universities in Ukraine, some of whom succeeded in leaving the country towards the borders of nearby countries before being transferred to Egypt, and others are still stuck there for various reasons.
The student, Muhammad, managed to distance himself after an arduous journey full of terror. He told Sky News Arabia: “We heard two weeks ago that Russia might enter the war against Ukraine, but we did not imagine that it would become a reality, and we believed that the war would be limited to the eastern regions of Donetsk. Lugansk”.
He continued, “But we were surprised that it was a comprehensive war that affected most of the Ukrainian cities, and many areas were bombed, such as Kharkiv, Dnipro, Zaporozhye and Robzhny, and the situation began to deteriorate, so we had to move from the city of Dnipro to the city of Kirovograd in the center of the country.”
sRow and clashes in Kirovograd
The Egyptian student recounts: “Although the situation in Kirovograd was not as severe as in the capital, Kyiv, the city witnessed clashes between Ukrainians and Russians, and there was bombing of an airport 4 kilometers from the heart of the city, and two military areas close to us were bombed, and the heart of The city, we decided to leave.
And he stated that: “Our trip was aimed at crossing to Poland, Romania, Slovakia or Hungary, but we were afraid to take this step until we see the Ukrainians doing it, and the city at this time was bombed to a lesser extent than other cities such as Kyiv, Kharkiv and Dnipro.”
He continued, “We searched for a train heading to any nearby city so that we could move from it to the city of Odessa, and from there to the Romanian border, and the problem was that we had a large number of girls with us, so we had to wait for a train moving from Kirovograd at 3 am.”
And he added: “With a ban that starts at 8 pm and whoever leaves after this time is treated as an enemy by the Ukrainian government, we went to the train station since 7:30 pm, and waited for the train, which was delayed in turn due to clashes, then the train moved us for 5 hours until we arrived at the airport. Odessa the next morning, and after that there were two buses that were provided by a person called Abd al-Rahman, a Syrian national, to whom I thank.”
The Egyptian student stressed, “There was a state of panic in the cities we passed through, such as the city of Kherson Oblast near Odessa, as it witnessed clashes with tanks, helicopters and machine guns, and we were subjected to inspection, we saw Ukrainian tanks heading towards the border near the tourist city of Odessa, which is located at the Black Sea to escape From Russian bombing, a city where there are some Egyptians.”
Reaching the Romanian border
He says, “The bus moved us from Odessa to the city of Izmail on the Ukrainian-Romanian border, a trip that lasted 6 hours and included Egyptians and people of other nationalities, and after we arrived in Izmail, we were well received and provided us with winter clothes, gloves and caps, and we boarded a ferry at 11 am We arrived at the Romanian border, where we were received very well.”
Student Mohamed expressed his thanks “to the Egyptian ambassador in Bucharest, as well as the Egyptian embassy in Kyiv, and the officials who helped us get out of Ukraine safely, as well as the Egyptian officials in Romania.”
Racism in Poland
He said: “Thank God that we headed to Romania because the Egyptians and other Arabs, Africans and Indians who headed to the Polish border, had to walk about 30 kilometers, and also received cruel and brutal treatment from the Polish authorities.”
He added that these people were “beaten and made to sit on the ground despite the temperature being below zero, and they did not provide them with food, despite the presence of women, children and the elderly among these displaced persons, who were subjected to a high degree of racism, and during their movement they passed through the city of Lviv, a city located in the direction of On the Polish border, there was great racism against any non-Ukrainian nationality.”
Egyptians are stuck
Muhammad Suleiman pointed out that there are Egyptians stranded in the cities of Kharkiv, Kiev, and Sumy, which are cities witnessing fighting, and the conditions of Egyptians are difficult.
He called on the Egyptian authorities to move quickly to return the rest of the Egyptians in Ukraine, “There have been many of them in shelters for days and they do not have food or drink, especially since the Ukrainians, with their knowledge of the war, have stored a lot of basic goods, which was not available to the Egyptian expatriates.”
More than 3,000 Egyptian students are studying in Ukraine, some of whom do not want to return for fear of the return trip, as well as for fear of their academic future, but the situation is dangerous and they must be removed from there even if they want to.
And they called on the officials in the study to allow them to complete their studies in Egypt, “out of fear for our future, especially since we have suffered from the war, the Corona crisis and being away from our families. We want to complete our education in Egypt and do not want to risk our lives again.”