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‘Humiliating African students in China won’t aid fight against Coronavirus’

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Following the news making the rounds that African students in Guangzhou, China, are facing difficult times due to the hard living conditions they were exposed to by the Chinese, their counterparts in Nigeria have called for peace and unity, saying that is what is mostly needed to win the fight against Corona Virus Disease (COVID-19).

According to reports on the University World News (UWN) website, African students, Nigerians inclusive have been thrown out of their homes, forcibly quarantined and refused entry into public areas.

The hostility towards African students in China worsened in the wake of warnings by Chinese President, Xi Jinping that there could be “second wave” of the pandemic.

Trouble started after five Africans were said to have tested positive for coronavirus in Guangzhou and a Nigerian national, also said to be positive, was reported to have attacked a Chinese nurse at the Guangzhou hospital while trying to escape.

These events have intensified hostility towards people of African descent, including students who have been forced to stay away from university campuses.

According to UWN, China is one of the countries that have high population of international students in their tertiary institutions. Currently they have thousands of African students in their institutions, a figure, placed at 81,000 till date with the highest numbers coming from Ghana, Nigeria and Zimbabwe.

It was also revealed that there are an estimated 10 million Chinese nationals living in Africa.

Students from Nigeria and Kenya, among others have been shown in videos from their hiding places, pleading with their governments to intervene and assist them as they are no longer safe in Guangzhou and are now going hungry as supermarkets have refused to sell food to them.

“At least half a dozen students from Africa staying in Guangzhou confirmed that they had faced some form of stigmatisation in the past week amid racial tensions that have engulfed the city. Placards with racial slurs were displayed at supermarkets and restaurants forbidding Africans from entering the premises and videos have emerged on various social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter showing some Africans roaming the streets at night with their possessions, unable to find shelter,” as reported by UWN.

But some Nigerian students who spoke with The Guardian on the issue said attacking people of African decent is not the solution, as efforts should be channeled on how to combat the virus.

“I saw some video clips online and I wept for my colleagues and other victims. Africans are not the problem, COVID-19 is the problem, and discrimination is not the best way to go about it. I want to also appeal to Africans over there, to subject themselves to test for peace sake,” says Bukola Aina, a University of Lagos (UNILAG) student.

For Comrade Bello Oluwasegun, a student of Lagos State University, (LASU), “I would simply say at this very time that the only thing we are expected to share is love and care for each other, we are at a point where we all need to be one and get to contain this COVID-19. Discrimination won’t be help; instead it will increase the spread of this virus.

“I would also implore the government and ambassadors of each of the African countries to China to look into this issues critically, find ways of solving the disputes and any means of discrimination. Even if it means allocating a centre for their citizens there in China, isolate them and keep them free from COVID-19 or bring their citizens back to the country and make provisions for them. The government of each affected citizens there in China needs to act up! I also feel Africans in China needs to be safe, by following necessary instructions been given and taking responsibility to contain this virus.”


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