As the impact of COVID-19 continues to affect the world, tens of thousands of African students are still stuck in France this summer, long after their studies have concluded.
In many cases, they are unable to return home to countries where the pandemic is accelerating. Even in cases when countries have not closed their borders or imposed travel restrictions, the price of airline tickets are beyond the reach of such student.
Life for many of the students is made even worse as many of them are not allowed to work due to visa restrictions and have had to rely on food banks or the benevolence of good neighbors.
Lyes Belhadj, treasurer of the Marseilles branch of UNEF acknowledges:
“These students cannot work because they don’t all have study visas allowing them to work.
“That’s the agreement between their countries and France and so we find ourselves with administrative difficulties, social difficulties and financial difficulties.”
Ouiza Slamani an Algerian student in France explains his frustration situation -“It’s hard. Not only without work, but at the same time you cannot see your family.
“It’s a bit strange because I’m used to going to Algeria every year, spending a month with my parents, my family, my little brothers and here I find myself stuck alone in an apartment.
“I have no scholarship, no job and a friend is lending me money for my rent.”
The situation is even made worse by the European Union rules that recently reinstated travel restrictions for people arriving from Algeria and some other African countries because of increased cases the COVID-19.