Paheja Siririka

Maihapa Ndjavera

After enduring horrific treatment and obstacles trying to flee Ukraine, Namibian medical students Casey Chimhangwa and Eino Kamukwanyama were the first to arrive safely in the country.

The duo, who managed to escape war ravaging parts of Ukraine, flew from Poland and arrived in Namibia at 5.10pm on Friday to a warm and emotional welcome from family and friends in Hosea Kutako International Airport.

The two friends recounted the ordeal to the media, saying what they went through is not something that should be experienced by anyone and that it was not easy to get on the trains to flee .

“We used trains to Lviv, where reality kicked in. We faced all sorts of things there because they wouldn’t allow people of color on the trains,” recalls Chimhangwa. The duo, along with other Africans, made other arrangements to continue their journey to the border and possibly use a taxi.

“We had to make alternatives to continue the journey to the border, and we took a taxi which dropped us off a few kilometers before the border,” he said.

According to him, they had to walk a few kilometers to the border because of too many cars waiting to cross to Poland, causing a huge traffic jam.

“When we arrived in Poland, officials were waiting for us and from there a person could breathe different air,” he said.

On his return home, he said, “It is warm and exciting to be home to my family after days of unforgettable trauma in my life. What is happening in Ukraine has given me an experience that I never want to experience again.

The biggest concern for them is to continue their studies, which seem to be in limbo due to the uncertainty surrounding the situation. The duo is in their final year of medicine.

Kamukwanyama’s wish is that the government find other ways for them to complete their education. “Our university has been bombed so going back is not an option, not any time soon. The damage to our university is too great. We hope the Namibian government will find a way for us to find other local universities or international so that we can continue our studies”, he pleaded.

The Ministry of International Relations said in a statement that at the time of the clash in Europe there were only 89 Namibians in Ukraine and it is understood that the initial number of 114 nationals provided earlier included those who had left Ukraine before the crisis.

“Eighty of them are safe, including one who does not want to reveal her whereabouts, seven are still in Ukraine, while the fate of two is unknown,” the ministry’s executive director, Penda Naanda, revealed. .

He added: “On arrival, Namibian nationals will be taken to Windhoek unless they are hosted by family members or friends. In Windhoek, they will receive psychosocial support upon request, and accommodation will also be arranged upon request.

Although the repatriation of Chimhangwa and Kamukwanyama was self-funded, Naanda said Namibian embassies in Austria, Germany and Russia are facilitating accommodation, meals and airfare for students, and Namibian nationals have started depart as a group for Namibia, depending on flight availability.

“The Namibian government will cover all costs related to accommodation, PCR tests, airfare and necessary personal necessities,” Naanda said.

The trauma that students might experience has prompted the government and private sector to offer counseling and other forms of psychosocial support. “Arrangements will be made when they arrive home to ensure they receive professional services before they are reunited with their families. I cannot tell you when the first person will arrive,” International Relations Minister Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah said. She is expected to visit the Welcome Centre, which will accommodate returning students in Hochlandpark, Windhoek.

On February 24, 2022, Russia launched an operation, claiming it was defending the People’s Republics of Donetsk and Luhansk, which broke away from eastern Ukraine in 2014. Tension between Russia and Ukraine intensified and among those fleeing are more than a million Ukrainians. , making it the fastest growing refugee crisis in Europe since World War II, the United Nations announced yesterday.

After the failure of two talks between the two states held recently, a third is expected to begin today as Ukraine and Russia agreed to meet again to discuss a possible ceasefire. that would allow civilians to evacuate.

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2022-03-07 Paheja Siririka