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STUDENTS IN ZIMBABWE CLOSE S.SUDAN EMBASSY

By Jale Richard

South Sudanese students studying in Zimbabwe on Tuesday occupied and closed the Embassy in Harare over the government’s failure to clear outstanding university fees.

The students said their universities also refused to give them food due to the outstanding arrears.

Bol Abol John, a former student in Zimbabwe said the students were demanding the Ministry of Higher Education to sort out its obligations so that they can access food and be allowed to graduate.

The students also said some of their colleagues who had completed their course were denied transcripts for the government’s failure to pay outstanding fees to the university.

“The decision to occupy the Embassy was triggered by the circular letter given to the students by universities notifying them that they will not graduate on the 12 of July 2019 and as a result will not be given their transcripts if their government is not able to clear outstanding balance demanded by the universities before 5th of July 2019 as a deadline,” Bol said.

“The problem is not that government has no money to pay fees arrears because the Council of the Ministers had approved an amount equivalent to 1.4 million dollars to clear the arrears owed by universities and to pay tickets for students who completed their courses to return to South Sudan,” he added.

He said the students needed immediate response from the government because the situation at the Embassy “is horrible and terrifying”.

“These students have been without food, water, accommodation while it is a winter season in Zimbabwe and this means some of them could get sick due to harsh weather condition if government doesn’t intervene promptly,” Bol added.

He said he doubted whether the students would leave the embassy to return to their universities if the government did not respond immediately.

“They cannot leave the embassy because at the university they don’t have anything to eat. Instead of dying of hunger at their universities, at least let them die at our embassy,” he stated.

Bol revealed that last week, a delegation of students union in Zimbabwe led by its President Mr. Martin Longar came to Juba to meet the Minister of Higher Education over challenges facing South Sudanese students in Zimbabwe but they have not been able to meet yet.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation was not immediately available to confirm closure of the Harare Embassy by the students.

There are about 130 South Sudanese students in Zimbabwe but 69 of them have completed their courses.

The students were taken on government scholarships but over the years, they have protested the government’s relaxed actions in clearing their university fees.

 

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