Stranded in Ukraine: Two Egyptian Students Speak of Their Ordeal In Raging War

Published February 28th, 2022 - 07:03 GMT
On the Ukraine-Romania border
People coming from Ukraine descend from a ferry boat to enter Romania after crossing the Danube river at the Isaccea-Orlivka border crossing between Romania and Ukraine on February 26, 2022. (AFP)

Robert Abdulmalek and Henry Salah are two Kuwait-based Egyptian brothers among thousands of Arab students in Ukraine who are stranded after Russia invaded the country.

Robert and Henry are in Dnipro, around 390 km southeast of the Ukrainian capital Kyiv. Their location is far from the main battlefields, but the sounds of sirens, bombs and fighter jets can be heard almost 24/7 since the start of invasion.

“I haven’t slept for the past three days. I am afraid they might drop a missile on our dormitory. It is an horrifying experience and I want to get out of this place as soon as possible,” said Robert, who spoke to Kuwait Times via Facebook from Dnipro while waiting with Henry for a bus to leave Ukraine.

“We are currently waiting for a bus to take us out from here to Romania. This is my longest day ever and my first time to leave my dorm after news about the Russian invasion spread all over Ukraine. We are terrified and in a state of shock. We want to go home,” he said.

The buses to Romania were arranged through the embassies of other countries. More than 10,000 Arab students attend university in Ukraine, lured by the relatively safe environment compared with their own troubled homelands.

“I heard the trip will take us up to 12 hours. May God bless us and keep us safe,” Robert said.

Henry said they were preparing for an evacuation for the past two weeks. “We received very minimal help from the Egyptian Embassy. They are far from here, in Kyiv, and they are also probably busy doing their own evacuations. So we coordinated with other Arab students to get out of here,” Henry said.

“If we successfully cross the border to Romania, we can manage to find our way home to Kuwait. Our father will arrange tickets to Kuwait from Romania. We want to leave because there’s no food left in grocery stores and people are panicking,” he added.

Robert and Henry came to Ukraine barely five months for higher studies. “I like it here in Dnipro as a student. The city was very quiet and peaceful until the Russian invasion. God bless the people of Ukraine for this very unfortunate chapter in the history of their beloved country. We will return soon, inshallah,” Henry said.

Dnipro is a major educational center in Ukraine and home to two of Ukraine’s top 10 universities.

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