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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

African Students Stranded in Moscow

About 100 students from poor African countries forced to leave academic institutes in Tashkent last month are stranded in Moscow without adequate housing, according to the local director of an international humanitarian organization.

The students -- from Ethiopia, Ghana, Zambia and Chad -- left Tashkent last month after the Uzbekistan Ministry of Education informed them that they had to pay $1, 000 each to finish the academic year, said Rizvana Sadykova, Moscow director of World University Service.

Until this academic year, all the former republics had honored scholarship contracts between the former Soviet Union and thousands of foreign students who were here before the Soviet empire collapsed, she said.

The Uzbek government cut off funding for the students after ongoing threats to do so. The students then came to Moscow in hopes of gaining admission and funding at local institutions.

"An official from the ministry told us we had two days to either pay or to leave", Mekoonen Kibiru, 23, a third-year student from Addis Ababa studying transportation, said in an interview Friday.

He and 26 fellow Ethiopian students, mostly second- and third-year students studying agriculture, computer science and transportation, then sought assistance from the Ethiopian embassy in Moscow.

At first they lived in hostels that charged 1, 000 rubles a day which the embassy financed for a week, the students said. In recent weeks, they have been living with friends and sometimes in train stations, Kibiru said.

A diplomat at the Ethiopian Embassy said about 30 Ethiopian students who are due to graduate this year were allowed to complete their studies in Tashkent.

Sadykova and officials from Ethiopian, Ghanian, Nigerian, Yemeni and Indian embassies said they were negotiating with Russian and Uzbek education authorities in hopes of getting the students readmitted in Uzbekistan or transferred to Russian institutes.

But Sergei Shevchenko, deputy chief of international cooperation department in the Russian Education Ministry said, "The Russian Ministry is not charged to deal with foreign citizens on foreign territory".