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We are stranded, we do not know where to go’ – SA student in Ukraine

  • News of Russia invading Ukraine led headlines across the globe on Thursday.
    News of Russia invading Ukraine led headlines across the globe on Thursday.
  • A medical student in Ukraine spoke to News24 about the ordeal.
  • The 19-year-old forms a part of a group of SA students in Ukraine.

A 19-year-old South African medical student in Kharkiv, Ukraine, feels helpless and stranded after Russia invaded the country.

Speaking to News24 on Thursday evening, Zwivhuya Machaba said Wednesday was a typical day. However, today (Thursday) students are in the midst of chaos.

“We woke up at 03:00 on Thursday to the sounds of bombs dropping close to our city. Yesterday was a normal day, with no chaos, and we did not know we would wake up to this,” she said.

Machaba said when the bombs dropped, they were instructed to “stock up on supplies and go underground”.

“When we contacted the embassy about an evacuation plan, they told us not to panic, but we are literally stranded,” she said.

Business Insider South Africa reports that Russian forces attacked Ukraine moments after President Vladimir Putin announced he had decided to launch a “special military action” against the country.

READ | SA encourages dialogue with ‘spirit of compromise’ to resolve Russia-Ukraine conflict – Pandor

The spokesperson for the Department of International Relations and Cooperation, Clayson Monyela, said the students were not stranded.

“Amb Andre Groenewald is in touch with all those students. They’re not stranded or out of options. The embassy is keeping us informed (hourly). SA & Nigerian embassies are extending help to other Africans. There’s a database & channels of comms open,” he tweeted on Thursday evening.

I’ve responded to your email. Amb Andre Groenewald is in touch with all those students. They’re not stranded or out of options. The embassy is keeping us informed (hourly). SA & Nigerian embassies are extending help to other Africans. There’s a database & channels of comms open. https://t.co/V39zZJdHrJ— Clayson Monyela (@ClaysonMonyela) February 24, 2022

He said the embassy had a database of South Africans in Ukraine, and they are not more than 250.

But Machaba told News24 this was hurtful to hear because they were stranded, with no plan to get to the border to enter Poland.

“Right now, we are sitting with our documents, and we do not know where to go because there are no flights. We are literally stranded. For them to say we are safe is very hurtful. We are really not safe, and we do not know what will happen,” she said.

News24 could not reach Monyela for additional comment.

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