Government offers travel loans to Jamaican students in Ukraine | Main stories
The Holness administration has offered loans to Jamaican students in Ukraine wishing to return home to an Eastern European country uncertain of an invasion by the Russian military.
In an email to students last week, many of whom had expressed difficulty obtaining funds to leave the country, the Jamaican Chargé d’Affaires at the Berlin Embassy, Denise Sealey, said the government would provide aid.
“Please note that a loan to cover the cost of a ticket to Jamaica will be provided by the government. We would be grateful if you would advise if you would agree to such an arrangement,” the email to 42 reads. Jamaican students.
“If you agree, tickets will be purchased and emailed to you.”
In a follow-up email, Sealey said only one student accepted the loan proposal at the time and urged others to get in touch, stressing that the government had very little time to work.
She said research indicated the cost of tickets averaged €500, which is equivalent to J$86,000 when converted using the Bank of Jamaica exchange rate.
“It’s just an idea of what the possible amount might be,” Sealey said.
A Gleaner A source with knowledge of the communication between the students and the ambassador said on Monday that several had not responded because the terms of the loan agreement were not disclosed.
According to the source, Sealey told the students she didn’t have the finer details of the repayment term or the interest rate.
The students, the majority of whom are pursuing medical studies, were instead told not to book any flights and that “Kingston will take this action.”
On Tuesday, Foreign Secretary Senator Kamina Johnson Smith said five of the students had left or were about to leave.
She said seven have requested government assistance to return, three of whom are reconsidering their decision.
The others are still considering their options, she said.
The minister said the embassy had also written to three universities attended by most students, two of which confirmed they would allow online classes until April 1.
The third, where 19 students are studying, said it would consider adjustments.
“We note that there have been signs of de-escalation and continue to hope for diplomatic solutions. The situation is very dynamic, so we will continue to monitor and share information, provide assistance and encourage our students to keep in touch and constantly assess their individual situation,” she said via her Twitter account.
A week ago, US President Joe Biden urged US citizens in Ukraine to leave.
On Wednesday, he called for a diplomatic solution to the “crisis”, noting in a speech at the White House that the best way forward for all parties involved was diplomacy and de-escalation.
Russia has always denied that it intends to invade Ukraine and has since announced the withdrawal of some of its 150,000 soldiers massed on the country’s borders.
However, Biden insisted that an invasion still remains possible and that there was no evidence to suggest Russia had withdrawn any of its troops.
Russia and Ukraine have been in conflict since 2014, when Moscow annexed the Crimean peninsula.