Teenage girl Racheal Diyaolu has asked the Irish government to help her and other students escape Ukraine, saying: “It’s going to be very scary.”
The Carlow student described feeling “hopeless” after waiting three hours at a pre-arranged location in Ukraine for a failed rescue mission yesterday morning.
That’s what the 19-year-old said Irish Independent She hopes Russian officials will soon allow safe transit for hundreds of international students, including herself.
A rescue mission by two Scottish volunteers – to help Ms Diyaolu, two other students and a Ukrainian family exit the country – fell through after the volunteers said they were fired upon by Russian soldiers.
The medical student, who is in Sumy, a heavily bombed city, said she lost all hope when she learned the rescue attempt had failed. She admitted breaking the news to her mother at home was what worried her the most.
Ms Diyaolu said: “We are not pawns in a war, we are young people who came to Ukraine to get an education and build a future career. I came here to build a future in medicine.
“That has already been taken from us and we have been put in danger. We didn’t expect that. We would like to go back to our original motives for being here – to study medicine.
“We want to get back to life. We are young – someone’s daughter or son, sister or brother. We are human beings. I want Russia to make it easier for us to go home. We just want to go home. Unfortunately, the rescue didn’t go as we had hoped. They came in a minivan to pick me and a family up.
“We were preparing to meet them at a designated pick-up point this morning but 89km outside of town they were stopped and fired upon. The Russian army told them they could not advance.
“We need all officials working together to help us get out of Ukraine. There are thousands of students across Ukraine trying to get home.
“Here in Sumy we are surrounded and we are asking the Irish Government to do their best to get us out of here. It’s going to be very scary.”
When she was contacted by the about her case Irish Independent, a Foreign Ministry spokesman said: “The Ministry is in constant contact with registered Irish citizens in Ukraine. As with all consular cases, the department does not comment on the details of any particular case.”
Ms. Diyaolu moved to Sumy last November to study medicine at the state university.
She said she was afraid to leave yesterday morning as the town she adored is now a “ghost town”.
“We waited three hours for them (rescuers) to come in. When I heard that the rescue attempt had failed, I felt hopeless. I worried about how I would teach my mother. Their hopes were raised and immediately shattered.”
She said a “small community” of students helped her stay strong.
“We’re all in the same boat here,” Ms. Diyaolu said. “We are mutual support systems.
“We keep each other happy, cook together, joke together, stay sane.
“We’re staying in touch with our families who are doing their best and we’re doing our best to stay safe and secure.”
She said she gets calls from Irish officials, as well as emails “asking about my well-being” and they also check for updates and provide safety tips.
“I want to get home as soon as possible,” she said.
“But I know if I go home it would be so upsetting to leave friends behind, so I just hope everyone can go home.”
According to reports, the northeastern city of Sumy was surrounded by enemy forces.
Early yesterday morning, the two Scottish volunteers were supposed to enter the city to rescue Ms Diyaolu and the others. The men are landscape gardeners but have traveled across Ukraine rescuing people from conflict zones.
However, their vehicle was reportedly fired upon by Russian forces. A Tiktok account that provides updates on the failed mission said they were “ambushed” by the Russian military and had their front tires shot off.
It added that one of the men had their phone confiscated before they were forced to turn back.
An update said locals helped them get new tires. It is not yet known if they will try to re-enter Sumy.
Ms Dyaolu’s sister Christiana said they went “from hope to hopelessness in minutes”.
“Sumy is proving to be a terrible place to get to,” she wrote on Twitter. “It is said to be surrounded by Russian military.
“I don’t know how much more devastation we can endure. Please humanitarian ceasefire/corridor for evacuation should extend to Sumy. These students need help.
“I wouldn’t wish this nightmare on my worst enemy, honest to God. There are still hundreds of students trapped in Sumy, three of them (Irish).
https://www.independent.ie/news/we-are-not-pawns-in-war-irish-student-in-desperate-plea-for-help-to-escape-from-ukraine-after-rescue-abandoned-41417311.html ‘We are not pawns in war’ – Irish student in desperate plea for help escaping Ukraine after rescue was abandoned