While Japan, the USA, France, Seychelles, and Egypt have managed to evacuate their citizens from the epicenter. Many Sub-Saharan African countries such as Kenya, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Somalia, and all of the Southern African countries (with the exception of Seychelles) have failed to evacuate their citizens from Wuhan.
The physical and emotional trauma of living in constant fear, suddenly having limited freedom and having to consider never seeing home again on a daily basis is also already taking a toll on these students. Leaving these young people hung out to dry is a betrayal of the Pan-African principles on which the AU was founded and a betrayal of the future of our continent.
A Zimbabwean student Thomas Kanzira wrote Getting out of bed is hard “You wake up every morning and realize you are trapped. “You keep checking your temperature – you can’t help but wonder if you are infected but just have not started showing symptoms.”
Based on local media reports, authorities in other African countries, including the governments of Zimbabwe, Sudan, Uganda and Zambia, are among those to have expressed confidence in the Chinese government’s ability to keep their nationals safe, thus suggesting that evacuation is not on the cards. Instead, they have urged people to remain indoors and follow instructions given by China’s authorities.
Last Week, Dr Pisso Scott Nseke, a community leader in Wuhan, says Cameroonians are still waiting for a response. He accepts that the community is not united in the desire to be evacuated but says they are disappointed by the lack of assistance from the government.
As of mid-February, Egypt, Algeria, Mauritius, Morocco and Seychelles had moved their citizens out of Hubei province. Other nations such as Ghana and Kenya are reportedly considering evacuating.
According to the head of the Ivory Coast student association in Wuhan $490 ($380) was given to the 77 Ivoirians in the city following weeks of discussions with their government. But many are growing increasingly frustrated by their government’s stance.
Ghana has reportedly sent financial assistance to its nationals as well. “Staying here doesn’t guarantee our safety. We are just in a country that has better medical facilities,” says Ms Salima.
“We feel abandoned. The Chinese clearly were angered by the Americans pulling their people out as they felt it caused panic,” said one student who agreed to talk on the condition of anonymity. “There is a lot of distrust here of the authorities,” he added.
Some are calling for a continent-wide strategy to help African nationals in China. “The decision to evacuate is not a question of ‘solidarity’ with China or the lack of it. It is the responsibility of every country to ultimately look after the health of their citizens wherever they are, including in China,” says Hannah Ryder from Development Reimagined, a Beijing-based international development consultancy.