South Sudanese students stranded in Zimbabwe

South Sudanese students stranded in Zimbabwe
A group of students stranded at NUST in Zimbabwe (photo credit: VOA)

At least 14 South Sudanese students are reportedly stranded at the National University of Science and Technology (NUST) in Zimbabwe’s second-biggest capital, Bulawayo.

The students, who graduated on Friday in different fields of studies say they are in a desperate situation with no food and accommodation.

Makuei Maker Chuny, the representative of the South Sudanese students at NUST told VOA Zimbabwe that they are appealing to the government in Juba to provide air tickets to facilitate their return.

The 14 students are part of the group that travelled to the Southern African country in 2015 to pursue their studies at different state-owned universities.

“We have been here for six years and [the] government was supposed to provide us two-way tickets, coming and going. Already, we have only used one ticket that is, coming from South Sudan to Zimbabwe” Maker was quoted to have said.

“This is a very desperate situation. The school now is going to be closed, there would be no water supply on campus, no electricity. How can you survive? Moreover, we used to have a warden here but now there is no warden. We will be left in the building alone and it’s not good for our health,” he lamented.

The representative said they have given Juba a one-week ultimatum to deliver on their demands or they will resort to storming the country’s embassy in Zimbabwe’s main capital city, Harare as the only option.

“We are asking the government of South Sudan to provide us with air tickets as soon as possible. This should be done before the end of this week,” Maker told VOA Zimbabwe.

“We want to go home. If they don’t do that, we are going to occupy the embassy as we have been doing because we are compelled by the situation,” he affirmed.

Not convenient

Maker said occupying the embassy will not either as the place is not suitable for students. But it will be their last resort if the government fails to act within the stipulated timeframe.

“At the embassy, it’s also not convenient for us. This should be a good ending. It should not be a bad ending. We have been struggling, we have been suffering here. They have not been consistent in sending money and sometimes we were evicted … We are urging our government to help us,” he pleaded as quoted by VOA Zimbabwe.

“We are very few. We are 14 only. How can the whole nation fail to transport 14 people? We thought this was not going to take even a week. I have written to many offices for two months asking them to provide tickets to my student colleagues but nothing has been done,” he revealed.

Over 100 South Sudanese students were sent to Zimbabwe in the first quarter of 2015 to pursue different degree programmes at six government’s higher institutions of learning.

Earlier this year, the third batch of graduates were flown back to Juba by the government without their academic documents as South Sudan owed Zimbabwe fee arrears surpassing $2 million at the time.

After persistent lobbies by graduates who returned to Juba, the government deposited part of the money leading to the retrieval of the students’ transcripts and degree certificates.