40 South African students remain trapped in Ukraine without aid

Moyahabo Mabeba

At least 40 South African medical students are still trapped in the city of Sumy in the northeastern part of Ukraine and Budapest in Hungary as the Russo-Ukrainian war escalates.

The plight of South African students was confirmed by South Africa Safe Corridors, a non-governmental organisation that was established in the aftermath of the war.

The South Africans are among the 1,700 foreign students who are stuck in the northeastern part of Ukraine as humanitarian corridors fail to materialise.

Compounded by language problems, the students are in need of food, water, sanitary pads and medication for those with chronic illnesses.

Maud Mahlangu, a third-year medical student, was among those caught in the crossfire after Russian president Vladimir Putin announced he decided to launch special military action against Ukraine.

After fleeing from her student residence in Kharkiv after the first bomb explosion on 24 February, Maud is now stranded in a subway between Ukraine and Hungry without any humanitarian aid.

Amid all the life-threatening chaos she has to raise R35,000 for a plane ticket from Budapest Ferenc Liszt via Istanbul to OR Tambo International.

Maud said the situation is frightening because they have no plan to raise money for plane tickets.

She said: “We are stuck in a foreign country that is under attack. We are not safe.”

Mandisa Malindisa, a South African student who survived the war, said they have decided to establish the South Africa Safe Corridors to raise funds for the displaced students.

“The students are trapped in a foreign country and have no means of survival. We are hoping to make a difference here at home to make it possible for them to return. They are not safe. Whoever disputes this has no idea how volatile the situation is.”

Clayson Monyela, the spokesperson for the Department of International Relations and Cooperation contradicted Mandisa.

Writing on his Twitter page, Monyela said: “They’re not stranded or out of options. Ambassador Andre Groenewald is in touch with all those students and the embassy is keeping us informed.”

Image source: Student International