Amid reports and videos of possible discrimination against non-European refugees, Shaker said that some Arabs, Indians, Pakistanis, and Africans faced insults and restrictions on their crossing in the first two days.
Ukraine hosts over 80,000 international students, including 20,000 Indians and large numbers from Morocco, Nigeria and Egypt.
“We faced no racism at all,” Al-Rubaei said. “Of course, families and elderly people were given priority, leaving young people in the cold. However, this is quite understandable. Besides, some refugees from all nationalities might misbehave and lead to some frictions.”
From Warsaw, Al-Rubaei said many Iraqi and other Arab students are still stranded in Kyiv, Kharkiv, and other cities.
“The Russian airstrikes are getting harsher and approaching residential areas,” he said. “Iraqi students in Kyiv said there is no way to flee now. The trains are still working but so crowded. The exits from Kyiv are not that safe either.”
He called on embassies to help their students and nationals. “I call on our respected embassies to help them, for they have no food or water,” he said. “An Algerian student was killed by the Russian invaders. Families call to help their sons come back home.”
He also called for safe passages and establishing committees on the borders to help students.
Waiting and Uncertainty
Poland allowed students to stay for 53 days or return to their countries of origin by flights run by their embassies.
Al-Rubaei, who had discussed his dissertation late in December and received his master’s diploma on February 23 a day before the war, preferred to wait in Poland.
He explained that some want to stay in Europe, others want to go back to their home, and some want to wait for 10 or 20 days to see what will happen in Ukraine.
“Most of the students are in panic and feel concerned about their educational future,” he said. “Busy with the war, the Ukrainian ministries and officials provided no answers so far.”
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Students who have not finished their studies are in a worse situation.
In the hope that the war would stop soon, Shaker also chose not to return to Egypt so that he could take one final exam to graduate and get his degree.
“I am afraid of going back to Egypt at the present time without obtaining my degree that proves my studying medicine,” he explained. “With the current situation, nobody will recognise my studies, neither in Europe nor in Egypt. This is a huge obstacle that I need to tackle.”