Following the inception of the crisis in Ukraine in February 2022, many people were forcibly displaced in search of refuge and places of safety. As the conflict escalated, the safety and security of Ukrainian cities ceased and civilians haphazardly sought refuge beyond the country’s borders.
Thousands of African students formed a significant community that was stranded and in search of refuge away from the line of fire – according to Unesco, Ukraine hosts over 23,000 African students. Poor responses from African governments also compounded the anxiety, uncertainty and insecurity of the African students as the crisis spread sporadically in Ukraine.
The African Students in Ukraine platform intervenes to increase access to information regarding accommodation, evacuation, consular/embassy assistance, financial, psycho-medical or legal aid and user tailored support. It aggregates available support from Africans, the diaspora and people of goodwill across the globe. Furthermore, the campaign engages in active advocacy with continental and international institutions for sustainable solutions to enable the students to return to normalcy.
Speaking on the launch of the initiative, one of the stakeholders, Dr. Fortuné Ahoulouma, a lawyer at the Paris Bar and managing partner of LABS-NS Avocats and board member of the think tank Molongwi said: "Restrictions on the right to asylum in European countries and the lack of coordinated action by their national governments have placed these young people in an unprecedented situation of vulnerability. This is similar to the one faced during the Covid-19 pandemic. Therefore, it seemed urgent to us to engage concrete means, beyond emotional indignation.”
Adébissi Djogan, MD of Public Affairs Africa and founder of Initiative For Africa, the co-host organisation added: “The overall agenda of this campaign and of our Ukraine response is that the dignity and success of African youth, wherever they may be, must be a priority of policy makers and leaders. It was absolutely unacceptable to abandon the future leaders and human capital of our continent. We hope that this initiative will inspire a Pan-African infrastructure of solidarity and proactive crisis response that is becoming increasingly pivotal in the face of current and future global uncertainties.”
The organisations leading this campaign have issued a White Paper in which they emphasize the tragedy of the educational disruption of students. Consequently, they have set as a priority to actively mobilise African and international academic pools of excellence, capable of ensuring the admission and continuance.
For more, go to www.africanstudentsukraine.org.