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S. Sudanese students in Zimbabwe go hungry once again

South Sudanese students preparing to sleep at the embassy. PHOTO//Kiir Kiir Akol

76 students under government scholarship in Zimbabwe are being denied food by their university administrations, according to their representatives.

This comes after the ministry of higher education failed to clear their tuition arrears.

In April last year, some 500,000 US dollars was approved by the Council of Ministers to pay the tuition fees after students were thrown out of their classes.

They sought accommodation at the South Sudan Embassy in Zimbabwe twice before the Harare government allowed them to resume classes on condition that the government will pay the arrears.

“The embassy had promised them that the money was going to be paid in the last one month,” said Moses Kat.

He said the 148 students on government scholarship are currently studying at six Zimbabwean universities.

However, he said that two of the universities, the Harare Institute of Technology and the National University of Science and Technology, have been denying the students food.

Mr Kat explained to Eye Radio that the students have been coping with the situation using money that was donated to them a certain businessman in Juba.

“He helped my office with about 1,500 US dollars and that’s what we have been using all these days for feeding. But right now we have exhausted it,” he added.

In response, the Minister of Higher Education, Yien Oral Lam, said the Central Bank has not yet released the money.

“It was on the Central Bank to release the amount. This is what I have learnt last week from my undersecretary.”

In January, the government decided to discontinue the scholarship program in Zimbabwe.

Only students who will graduate this year were allowed to continue with the scholarship program, according to a letter by the Ministry of Higher Education.

However, Mr Kat says all the students are continuing with their lectures because the government did not send tickets for them to come back home.

(Additional information by Aken Nhial Bol)