Ukraine Violence Shocks Namibian Students

“I HAVE never seen something like this before, apart from watching it on TV or reading about it in the newspapers,” said Selma Johannes, relating to the recent protests in Ukraine.

These violent demonstrations have left over 77 Ukrainians dead and thousands of others injured.

The 24-year-old Namibian medical student at O.O Bogomolets National Medical University said although by yesterday afternoon she and other Namibian students started reporting for class again, they are still on alert.

“We need to be careful with places we go to, because we don’t know who is protesting and who is not. We have been asked to stay in the hostel, especially when we don’t have classes,” she said.

There are currently six Namibian students at the medical school and one at the aviation university.

Johannes also said their university was shut down last week, and that they were unable to access their funds because computers have been offline. According to her, the banks that were initially closed are now in operation again. However, in the centre of Kiev where the protests are taking place they have not reopened. Johannes said that one still needs to be careful and restrict night movements. Sharing the same sentiment as those of Johannes is Esther Shoopala, a second-year medicine student at Crimea State Medical University.

Shoopala said despite the fact that they are an hour flight away from Kiev, they too were encouraged to stay indoors and not leave their home.

“I’m in the south. We are away from the capital. My town is silent. Except that there was a demonstration yesterday in the city centre and we were asked not to leave home. School is going on as usual,” Esther said. Another student, who preferred to remain anonymous, said at the moment things seem to have calmed down.

“As long as we stay indoors in the evening, we are fine. There is a mini protest at the university and we were advised that it’s not safe for foreigners to be around that area,” said the student, adding that the situation is unpredictable right now.

“I personally would prefer studying elsewhere. The protesters have not moved and other smaller riots and protests are breaking out in other parts of the country.”

The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah said the latest information communicated to them, from their mission in Moscow that also covers Ukraine says, all 67 Namibian students who have registered with the mission are safe and attending classes.

Nandi-Ndaitwah also said the mission is in constant contact with the students, adding that the students referred are those sent to Ukraine through government programmes.

She advised students who might have gone on their own and have not registered with the mission to contact the embassy in order to register.