Palestinian university student Samar Aita, who studied in Ukraine, chats with her mother at her house, in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip
Palestinian university student Samar Aita, who studied in Ukraine, chats with her mother at her house, in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip
Photo: Reuters
Palestinian university student Samar Aita, who studied in Ukraine, watches news about Ukraine's invasion by Russia at her house, in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip

From Gaza to Ukraine and back: War haunts Palestinian students

Palestinian Foreign Affairs Ministry says it oversaw evacuation of 1,300 Palestinians, including 600 students, from Ukraine, with many preferring to stay in other European countries; 'I never expected I would go from one war into another,' says one student

Reuters |
Published: 03.15.22, 11:41
Samar Aita lived through three wars in the Gaza Strip before moving to Ukraine four years ago, never imagining her computer engineering studies would be interrupted by a conflict far from home.
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  • The 21-year-old Palestinian woman is now back with her family in Rafah, a town in southern Gaza, after fleeing Kharkiv, a city in northeastern Ukraine.
    3 צפייה בגלריה
    Palestinian university student Samar Aita, who studied in Ukraine, watches news about Ukraine's invasion by Russia at her house, in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip
    Palestinian university student Samar Aita, who studied in Ukraine, watches news about Ukraine's invasion by Russia at her house, in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip
    Palestinian university student Samar Aita, who studied in Ukraine, watches news about Ukraine's invasion by Russia at her house, in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip
    (Photo: Reuters)
    "I never expected I would go from one war into another, from bombardment to bombardment, from displacement to displacement and from refuge to refuge," Aita said.
    "Ukraine was a very calm and safe place therefore, I never expected I would be forced to escape or that my life would be in danger."
    In 2014, Aita lost several relatives when Israel bombed her neighborhood targeting terror sites during a 50-day war with Gaza terrorist factions, scenes she and her mother recalled with the first news of Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
    "Knowing your daughter is alone and you don't know how dangerous it is there, made me tense and I couldn't sleep for a week," said Aita's mother Shadia.
    3 צפייה בגלריה
    Palestinian university student Samar Aita, who studied in Ukraine, chats with her mother at her house, in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip
    Palestinian university student Samar Aita, who studied in Ukraine, chats with her mother at her house, in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip
    Palestinian university student Samar Aita, who studied in Ukraine, chats with her mother at her house, in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip
    (Photo: Reuters)
    Israel and Gaza's armed groups, led by the enclave's rulers - the Hamas terror group - have fought four wars since 2008, including one last May, and the area remains volatile.
    Aita said her life had been in danger several times during her escape from Ukraine, including her exit from Kharkiv by train when it was forced to abruptly change tracks during a bombing, turning a 12-hour trip into a 36-hour ordeal.
    The Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates said it oversaw the evacuation of 1,300 Palestinians, including 600 students, from Ukraine since the start of the invasion.
    Most studied medicine, said Ahmed Al-Deek, an advisor to the Palestinian foreign minister. He said the Palestinian Authority would help those who fled Ukraine to study in universities in the West Bank and Gaza instead.
    3 צפייה בגלריה
    פליטים מגיעים לתחנת מעבר במולדובה
    פליטים מגיעים לתחנת מעבר במולדובה
    Ukrainian refugees cross the border into Moldova
    (Photo: EPA)
    In Gaza's Nusseirat refugee camp, Rabeea Abu Rabeea said his journey from Ukraine took 11 days. In his fourth year at the Poltava State Medical University, he had aimed to become a dentist like his father.
    "I see a dead-end before my eyes, and my future is uncertain," Abu Rabeea said, adding that around 200 other students from Gaza had been evacuated but many preferred to stay in other European countries.
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