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Hundreds of Medical Students Trapped in Ukraine

March 4, 2022

More than 800 mostly foreign medical students are stranded in Sumy, a city in northeast Ukraine about 40 miles from the Russian border, as Russia continues its assault on Ukraine, The New York Times reported Thursday. The students are mostly from African countries and India and attend Sumy State University.

The students are unable to leave Ukraine because Russian forces have obstructed access to nearby roads and trains. Explosions near the university have caused power outages and forced students to frequently go to bomb shelters.

According to the Associated Press, students reported that an oil depot in the city was recently bombed and there is fighting in the streets.

Andrii Loboda, director of the academic and research Medical Institute of Sumy State University, told The New York Times that he’s urging students to shelter in place while he calls on international aid groups to help students leave.

In the meantime, the students remain trapped and in a state of uncertainty. Students have been tweeting about their experiences and appealing to be let out of the city with the hashtag #savesumystudents.

“Almost everybody in this city is stuck here,” Wireko Andrew Awuah, a fifth-year medical student from Ghana, told The New York Times. He said some embassies have tried to get students out of Sumy, but “it’s always one answer. The roads are blocked and they are not safe.”

Foreign students across Ukraine have been affected by the war. A fourth-year medical student from India studying in Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, was killed Tuesday, The New York Times reported. African students in Ukraine were prevented from fleeing to Poland and have reported racist treatment at border crossings. American study abroad programs in Russia and Ukraine have pulled students out and paused future programming in those countries.

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Sara Weissman

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