Ukraine War Claims 1 Algerian Student’s Life; Others Live in Fear

/ 04 Mar 2022

Ukraine War Claims 1 Algerian Student’s Life; Others Live in Fear

An Algerian student was killed during a Russian bombardment of Kharkiv, Ukraine, on Saturday, authorities have confirmed.

The death of Mohamed Talbi, a 25-year-old aerospace engineering graduate of the Kharkiv Aviation Institute, heightened fears among other Algerian students still trapped in the country. Some told Al-Fanar Media of desperate attempts to flee, while others pleaded with their country’s authorities to speed up evacuation efforts.

The Killing of Mohamed Talbi

“I take refuge with 32 Algerian students in underground shelters. The situation has become very worrying after we learned of the killing of the student, Mohamed Talbi. We hope that the Algerian authorities coordinate quickly in order to move us to safe places.”

Selim Lakhdari   An Algerian pharmacy student in Kyiv

The Algerian Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed on Sunday that Talbi had died in the eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv.

Talbi, who was originally from Tlemcen, in western Algeria, had completed his studies last year, but he discovered a mistake in his name on the certificate he received by mail while in the United Arab Emirates, where his family lives now. He went back to Ukraine to correct the mistake, and days later the war erupted.

In a statement, Abdelhafide Talbi, the young man’s father, told Al-Fanar Media that it was difficult for his son to travel due to the intense bombing on the Ukrainian territories. He said the family is waiting to receive their son’s body once the hostilities stop.

Other Algerian students in Ukraine shared with Al-Fanar Media stories of the fear and horror they are experiencing as strangers in a devastated country.

Selim Lakhdari, a pharmacy student in Kyiv, said students had become extremely worried since learning of the death of Mohamed Talbi.

Lakhdari said he and 32 other Algerian students are now hiding in an underground shelter. He hopes that his country’s authorities quickly coordinate their transfer to safe places in Ukraine or neighboring countries.

A Desperate Journey to Poland

Bilal Chayah, a doctoral student in medical physics, described the harsh journey he and 500 other Algerian and Arab students made from Kyiv to Shehyni, a town on the border with Poland. They traveled by bus, train, and even on foot in freezing cold before reaching the border on the night of February 27.

Chayah was living near the Kyiv airport when the Russian invasion began on February 24 and witnessed the first attacks.

Mohamed Talbi was a recent graduate of the Kharkiv Aviation Institute. He was killed over the weekend during Russian troops' shelling of the city.
Mohamed Talbi was a recent graduate of the Kharkiv Aviation Institute. He was killed over the weekend during Russian troops' shelling of the city.

“I saw Ukrainians, old and young, running towards the shelters as soon as the sirens sounded,” he told Al-Fanar Media, speaking from a shelter in Shehyni. “Foreign students, Algerians and others, were perplexed. We had no choice but to contact our embassies, whose response was mostly: Be patient, we will find a solution. Keep in touch with us.”

Chayah and other students decided, on their own, to flee toward Ukraine’s western borders with Poland and Romania. They rushed to train and bus stations on foot. Taxis were not an option, because of the cost.

“Taxis took advantage of the worsening situation, and raised their prices,” Chayah said.

Public transportation was under terrible pressure, he said, and was giving priority to Ukrainians.

“Fifty kilometers before the Ukrainian-Polish border, hundreds of students had to walk to the Shehyni border crossing under extreme cold and snow showers,” he said in a weary voice.

“Fifty kilometers before the Ukrainian-Polish border, hundreds of students had to walk to the Shehyni border crossing under extreme cold and snow showers.”

Bilal Chayah   A medical physics student who fled Kyiv

The shelter where Chayah resides now is intended to house refugees for about 90 hours until they can arrange to stay in Poland or evacuate to a third country.

Chayah pleaded for urgent intervention to alleviate the suffering of Algerian students, expedite their evacuation, and help those still stranded in cities under fire to reach Poland or Romania. “Most students cannot afford the transportation fees,” he said.

Favorite Educational Destination

About 1,900 Algerian students are studying in Ukraine’s universities, according to Abderrahim Samer, a member of the Free Student Union in Algeria.

Ukraine is a preferred educational destination for Algerians, especially for postgraduate and professional studies, he told Al-Fanar Media.

Medicine and pharmacy are the top disciplines Algerians seek to study in Ukraine, he said. Other top study topics include agriculture, nutrition, aeronautical engineering, and technology, he added.

On the official level, Algeria organised a special flight on Thursday from Bucharest, Romania, to evacuate Algerian nationals who had made it there from Ukraine.

The Algerian Ministry of Foreign Affairs called on those who remain in Ukraine to “exercise the utmost caution, and to fully comply with security and safety directives.”

It urged those still in Ukraine to stay in contact with the Algerian embassy in Kyiv, and for those who had made it to Poland or Romania to communicate with the diplomatic missions in Warsaw and Bucharest.

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Copyright © 2018 Al-Fanar Mediaحقوق © 2018 الفنار للإعلام