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Moroccan students fleeing Ukraine arrive in Casablanca

A Moroccan student studying in Ukraine and fleeing the war is embraced by his family after arriving to Casablanca airport on a repatriation flight, in Morocco   -  
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Mosa'ab Elshamy/Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.


On Wednesday, Moroccan students evacuated from Ukraine finally landed in their country. The North African kingdom is organizing repatriation flights from Bucharest, Budapest and Warsaw.

It is the end of a traumatic experience in Ukraine for these Moroccan students. On Wednesday, they finally reached their country as they arrived at the Mohammed V International Airport in Casablanca.

Many can’t forget the perilous journey they embarked on to flee the war, Afaf particularly recalls the treatment she experienced along the road: "Our exit from Ukraine was difficult because Ukrainians were racist to us. During our crossing from the borders, Morocco provided us with hotel, transportation and food for free. It was necessary to move away from the Ukrainian police who privileged their citizens over us."

A race against time

Even though she is home now, Nisrine remains concerned for her fellow students still stranded in Ukraine: "I beg the embassy there to do something because the students in Poland are treated with racism and violence. People are walking more than 40 kilometres, some are freezing, people are forced to throw away their food in order to make themselves light for the road, some are also dying of cold as they wait in a row."

Morocco has around 8,000  students enrolled in Ukrainian universities. Since Wednesday, the country has organized repatriation flights from Bucharest, Budapest and Warsaw after Ukraine closed its airspace to civilian traffic at the start of the Russian invasion last week.

Other Arab governments are also planning repatriation flights. Egypt, the Arab world's most populous country, has 6,000 citizens in Ukraine, more than half of whom are students in Kharkiv.

An Egyptair plane was heading to Bucharest Tuesday afternoon "to repatriate Egyptian students in Romania," government spokesman Nader Saad said.

More than 660,000 people have fled Ukraine since Russia launched its invasion last week, the UN refugee agency said.

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