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First Egyptian injured during Russia invasion as Arab students scramble to leave Ukraine

February 28, 2022 at 11:43 am

A view of a residential building damaged by recent shelling in Kharkiv on 26 February 2022. [SERGEY BOBOK/AFP via Getty Images]

Egypt’s state-run media reported yesterday that the first Egyptian citizen had been injured in the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Mohamed Zayed is being treated in a hospital in the eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv after being injured during an air strike.

At least 102 civilians have been killed and 422,000 displaced since Thursday, though the UN has warned that the real figures are likely to be much higher.

Poland is preparing for up to one million refugees to enter as the fighting continues.

The Egyptian foreign ministry told its embassies in countries around Ukraine to prepare to receive Egyptian citizens being evacuated from the country.

Roughly 6,000 Egyptians live in Ukraine, around half of whom are students, but some say they have little help from the Egyptian embassy.

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On Sunday Ukrainian authorities ordered border guards to allow Egyptians to leave the country through its borders with Poland, Hungary, Slovakia and Romania.

Thousands of Arab nationals are currently trying to leave Ukraine, including some 10,000 Moroccans who were asked on 12 February to leave Ukraine immediately, among them 8,000 students. But many did not go, fearing they would be suspended for failing to attend classes or that Russia would decide not to invade the country.

There are between 3,000 and 5,000 Lebanese people in Ukraine, some who cannot afford the flight because of the financial meltdown back home.

The closing of commercial airspace for flights has added to the difficulty in helping Arab citizens leave the country, whilst others are stuck in cities under siege by Russian forces.

As well as Egypt and Morocco, one of the largest number of students is from Nigeria, though reports have circulated that Nigerian students are being prevented from leaving.

Videos have circulated online of African students being pushed back from the Polish-Ukrainian border last week to allow Ukrainians out first.

In one video, Ukrainian police officers could be seen at a train station linking arms to prevent a group of Africans getting onto a train.