from YAO YUANHUI in Guangzhou, CHINA
GUANGZHOU – SOME African students in China are reportedly facing starvation as they struggle to access food owing to restrictions placed by authorities to curb the spread of the deadly coronavirus.
Reports have emerged the foreign students have been denied permission to leave campuses to go and buy necessities while their local counterparts have permission.
An estimated 60 000 African students from 27 African countries are believed to be studying at various universities in the besieged Asian country.
“What worsens matters is that university authorities where I study only release their kith and kin to buy food on our behalf. They buy food that is unknown to us Africans,” said a Zimbabwean student studying in Chengdu.
Like many others, he spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of victimisation.
“We are not allowed to go to banks or bureau de changes to withdraw money for food. Our suffering is no different from that of Nelson Mandela at Robben Island,” the student said.
Another student from Kenya said universities were not providing catering services, which exacerbated issues.
“The universities demand that we give money to Chinese officials, who will then go out to buy food for us. The officials settle for Chinese food, which is unfamiliar to some of us as Africans,” the Kenyan said.
A Zambian student who spoke to CAJ News Africa from Chongqing city, appealed to the internationals community to intervene.
“The Southern African Development Community (SADC) and African Union (AU) must urgently engage the Chinese government about the looming hunger crisis. Otherwise, we will all die of starvation while locked up at university campuses,” he said.
The locked up students claim ed they ran out of cash long ago, which is needed to buy them foodstuffs yet authorities cannot allow them to go to banks to withdraw the desperately required cash thereby exposing them to starvation.
“How can we buy food when we do not have cash? Our parents have sent us money, but we are not allowed to access banks,” queried one Nigerian student.
University authorities declined to comment when approached for interviews.
However, a senior lecturer at Shijiazhuang said they were aware of students having exhausted their foodstuff and money.
“However, there is nothing we can do for now until March,” he told CAJ News Africa.
It is anticipated the coronavirus would have been brought under control (by March).
The virus is currently raging with more than 1 000 Chinese dead from over 44 000 cases since the outbreak began in December.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has dispatched its team to work closely with Chinese government to combat the coronavirus.
– CAJ News