The world woke on Thursday to a full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine on three fronts, with bombardments heard near airports and major cities. The new turn in the conflict put thousands of Arab students and professionals in Ukraine in a tight spot with limited evacuation options.
Alaa Ishteiwi, a third-year engineering student from Jordan at the Karazin Kharkiv National University, said none of the students there had expected the war to erupt so quickly. “We all feel scared and concerned about our lives and educational future, amid lack of information,” he told Al-Fanar Media.
Kharkiv, in northeastern Ukraine, is the country’s second-largest city, after Kyiv, the capital.
Amid closed airports, depleted food supplies and the sounds of military aircraft overhead, many people sought refuge in underground metro stations. However, Alyaa Gaber, an Egyptian fifth-year medical student at the Kharkiv National Medical University, said that Arab students chose to remain at their rented houses in the city centre for now.
Fadi Shehab, a Lebanese sixth-grade medical student at the Kirovohrad Medical Institute, in central Ukraine, confirmed that the prices of food and fuel have risen by about 25 percent. “This is negatively affecting my ability to stay, especially with the deterioration of the Lebanese pound against the dollar,” he said.
The institute is Ukraine’s largest and leading medical institute. It was moved to the Kirovohrad province in 2014 from the separatist Donetsk region.