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International Students Seek Help to Return to their Countries

Charles Sonel, a South Sudanese national and third-year student at Kyambogo University says he prefers returning home since he is uncertain on whether he will be able to foot his food bill in the next month.
05 Jun 2020 14:15
International students want the government and Foreign Affairs Ministries in their home countries to make arrangements to evacuate them from Uganda given the economic hardships they are facing because of the lockdown.

The students, some of whom have been in the country for three months without attending any lessons, say they are uncertain of their survival in case learning institutions don’t reopen in a month’s time. 

Charles Sonel, a South Sudanese national and third-year student at Kyambogo University says he prefers returning home since he is uncertain on whether he will be able to foot his food bill in the next month.

“We are going through a hard situation. We are depending on government food relief, which is about to run out. So, the only option I feel is returning home because at least at home it’s easy for us to cover expenses such as food and shelter,” Sonel said     

Like Sonel, Ali Idriss a final master’s student from Nigeria at Kampala International University, says the increase in the exchange rates has affected him. “Before the lockdown, if I had about 20,000 Nigerian Nairas on my account and changed it I would have about  200,000 Shillings. However, due to the current dollar rate, I could get about 160, 000 Shillings,” Idriss said.  

The Uganda Shilling has in the past one month gained value against the dollar from Shillings 3,900 at the start of March. However, it has since appreciated to Shillings 3,760 against a dollar. This means if one is receiving money from outside, the conversion gives them less than what they would have received a month ago.         

Idriss says he cannot wait for any further extension of the lockdown since he is running out of pocket money. Emanuel Kwizera, a Burundian national and PhD student at Nkumba University, says he would like to return to his country because the lockdown has led to unnecessary expense

“I would like to return home because I am already operating in losses. For my case, I operate businesses back home and I normally have a plan on how to use my money. But because of this lockdown, I find myself diverting money to more essential needs,” Kwizera said

Kwizera says the majority of his colleagues want to return home because they are uncertain when the institutions will be reopened. He also calls upon Uganda and his home government to organize means to send back international students who would wish to return to their home countries.

The students also want the government to provide them relief food since the majority of them are surviving on personal savings and money from their parents.