Kingston – The Government is pursuing all avenues to safely evacuate Jamaican students residing in Ukraine, following Russia’s military invasion on Thursday, says Prime Minister Andrew Holness.
He said that the only priority at this time “is to get our students home”.
“In my latest information, there are 27 students remaining in Ukraine; 25 are in a city called Kharkiv and one is in Kyiv. Fifteen have [already] left the country,” Holness said on Thursday.
“We will be using all our efforts, all our channels, all our connections and friendships, to ensure that we can safely get our students home, if they so choose to come, because that is always a variable in the equation; the personal choices that free people make.”
Holness said that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade will maintain contact with the remaining students in Ukraine, while collaborating with neighbouring countries for assistance with evacuation efforts.
“Please know that the ministry, as we speak, is trying to figure out how we can make some connections with friendly countries to assist. Our understanding is that the airspace is closed, and the advice would be to stay in place and be as safe as you possibly can, given the circumstances,” he said.
Holness urged the students to keep in contact with the Jamaican Embassy of Berlin and their families, and to stay updated with accurate information services.
“So, we pray for the students who are there. We pray for the people of Ukraine that this conflict will end and that there will be no more unnecessary loss of life,” he said.
Meanwhile, the prime minister noted that Jamaica had to deal with a similar situation during the 2014 Ukraine crisis, when Russia annexed Crimea.
He said that at the time, the Jamaican students were offered loans to assist them in evacuating the country.
“It is not an unusual procedure. This is how most governments operate. They give the facility for their citizens to be able to get air tickets and travel plans right away and then, on their return, a programme is worked out for repayment,” Holness pointed out.
He said that at the time, the repayment of the loans was not pursued. (CMC)