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Nigerian medical students who fled Ukraine continue their education online

Sixth-year medical student at Ternopil National Medical University in Ukraine, Dominic Oro, a Nigerian, was two months away from completing his medical degree when Russian forces invaded the country on February 24.

Oro woke up that day to news of explosions in several Ukrainian cities. Like hundreds of other students in Ternopil, he fled to Romania. From there, he boarded a government-chartered plane to Nigeria in early March.

But this week, Oro and his colleagues resumed their lessons online. He says it was more like a reunion.

“Our main conversation was about how we couldn’t properly say goodbye because we thought we still had time. It was due to be a graduation party, where we will have pictures and everything.”

Amid the uncertainty, Oro says, he is keeping his hopes high, though he is concerned about his mentor in Ukraine, who also serves as a lifeguard on the front lines.

“He looks very nervous. He seems to have gotten a little sleep… I could see bags around his eyes.”

Nigerian authorities said about 8,000 citizens were living in Ukraine when the invasion began. About 5,600 of them were students.

Sixteen-year-old first-year medical student Fatima Pavah returned to Nigeria weeks ago and started virtual learning as well. But for her, it’s not the same. She said she misses seeing her friends and teachers, and looks forward to attending classes in person.

Pavach started her medical training in September. Now her mother, Salah Pavah, says she should stay outside Ukraine and needs a place to study in peace.

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Dominic Oro and his colleagues were planning a big dinner to celebrate his graduation. But now he’s afraid he’ll never see some of his classmates again.