SA students to return home from Ukraine

A partnership between the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) and pharmaceutical company, Aspen Pharmacare, will see the return of 10 South African students from the conflict-ridden Ukraine.

The students, many of whom have limited resources, were forced to flee the Ukraine into neighbouring countries in the wake of the raging armed conflict.

The 10, who are studying across various universities in the Ukraine, will arrive in the country this morning.

“The students and other nationals crossed into neighbouring countries like Hungary, Poland, Romania and Slovakia. Most did not have the means to return home.

"After learning of the plight of these students, Aspen Pharmacare joined forces with DIRCO to expedite both the travel arrangements and funding required to assist with their safe return to South Africa. The first group of 10 students will arrive this morning, 10 March 2022, on an Air France Flight at OR Tambo International Airport,” said Aspen and DIRCO in a joint statement on Thursday.

Aspen Group Senior Executive for Strategic Trade, Stavros Nicolaou, said the Ukraine conflict has created “a significant humanitarian crisis, from which a number of South African students studying abroad in the Ukraine have been severely impacted”.

“After the weekend appeal to our government and corporate South Africa from many of these students, Aspen, which has a presence in the Ukraine and neighbouring territories decided join forces with [the] South African government to ensure the timeous and safe return of these students to their home country, so that they can be united with their loved ones.

"Our students are our future, and it is important that the spirit of ubuntu prevailed and that together with our government, we were able to move swiftly to ensure their safe and timely return.”

Nicolaou said he is hopeful that the students will be able to resume their studies in the not-too-distant future.

“We expect 23 of the 25 students to be safely home by the weekend and the remaining two to return next week.”

Deputy Director-General at DIRCO, Clayson Monyela, has thanked Aspen for the partnership.

“We would like to thank Aspen Pharmacare for heeding the call of our government to partner with us and bring our citizens back home. We also want to extend a word of gratitude to all our ambassadors, team of diplomats and South African volunteers (at home and abroad), who played a role in this project. This is the diplomacy of ubuntu in practice,” he said.

Source: South African Government News Agency