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Faith Nyasuguta 

On Tuesday, 106 Tunisian students landed in their home country. They were among the first North African nationals to safely leave Ukraine.

Since time immemorial, airport embraces have often been emotional. On Tuesday morning, tears were shed in the Tunis airport, they were tears of joy.

The tears marked the end of an ordeal for the first Tunisian students repatriated from Ukraine. They reunited with their families at the airport after days of anguish and fear sparked by the Russian invasion.

Russia invaded Ukraine last week /Courtesy/

According to Aymen Badri, a computer engineering student, “there were many difficulties on this long journey. It is a war situation with exceptional conditions. We went through a real nightmare.”

The joy of reunion also sounded in the parents’ hearts. Hejer Boukabeba, the mother of a repatriated polytechnic student expressed her relief: 

“I am very happy because my son returned. I am also happy for those who were able to come back. We hope everyone’s children will return.”

Around 1,700 Tunisians live in Ukraine with 80 per cent being students. The Minister of Foreign Affairs say the repatriation operation will proceed in the coming days.

“We hope that by the end of the week the whole operation will be successfully completed”, mister – Othman Jerandi said. 

Adding, “We will then remain in contact with all Tunisians willing to return, in order to assist them in their trip to Tunisia and eliminate the stress and tension they are currently experiencing. There is a lot of information, counter-information and misinformation. So we have to deal with all that. It is a crisis.”

The 106 Tunisian students who landed in the North African country were among the first African nationals to get back to their home from Ukraine. Another 17 Ghanaian students had  landed in Accra on Tuesday.

A woman from Western Africa cries while taking on the phone after fleeing Ukraine following the Russian invasion, at the border checkpoint in Medyka, Poland, February 28, 2022. REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach

From Wednesday, Moroccan authorities will operate their maiden repatriation flights.

Some other African nations including Algeria and Libya have instead set up plans for their nationals to be evacuated to Ukraine’s neighboring countries.

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Faith Nyasuguta