Medical students from war-torn Sudan arrive in Rwanda

Students from the University of Medical Sciences and Technology (UMST) in Khartoum, Sudan, who fled the country after conflict erupted in April, will be able to continue their studies in Rwanda.

The development was confirmed on 2 August during the official reception of 160 students who will be joining students at the University of Rwanda. The university made the announcement on its official Twitter (renamed X) platform. Of the 160 students, about 130 are Sudanese, but the group also includes students from Nigeria, France, Canada, India, Jordan, the United States and Ireland.

In June, the Muhimbili National Hospital in Tanzania also received 150 medical students from UMST. Students have been relocated to Tanzania to complete their final year of studies following the outbreak of war in Sudan, reported The Citizen.

According to reports, the paramilitary soldiers involved in the fighting have hijacked UMST’s facilities and transformed the university into military barracks, thereby halting education and forcing students to flee.

The students, who will join the University of Rwanda’s College of Medicine and Health Sciences, will practise in the four university teaching hospitals in the country, according to University of Rwanda Vice-Chancellor Didas Kayihura Muganga.

Higher education in Sudan, including several universities, their academics and students, was caught up in the conflict after military clashes between the national army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces, or RSF, started on 15 April. Several academics and students have died.

Partnership talks

Kayihura said that the two countries were in talks to establish an exchange partnership when the war started.

“When they came to negotiate this arrangement, they had to assess [our facilities] and move around our teaching hospitals, our laboratories, the dentistry department – and the results were positive, indicating a certain standard,” he said.

“That gives us confidence. Having students from the best universities in Khartoum wanting to join us … is a vote of confidence for us. We will be training them according to the requisite standards,” he added.

Kayihura said that the university’s current capacity does not make it possible to accommodate all students from UMST.

“We agreed to have those who are doing general medicine, especially during their clinical training, as well as some of the students in the dentistry department. Those in general medicine will be doing their clinical rotation while those in dentistry will be doing their clinical training,” he noted.

According to Kayihura, the majority of the students were in their final year, which requires practical training, particularly in the fields of general medicine and dentistry.

“Today, we are extending a hand [to offer] relief given the instability and the crisis in the country [Sudan] but, once peace is restored, we are looking at collaborating in a sustainable manner,” Kayihura noted.

Future doctors

For Iman Osman Abufatima Adam, 23, who felt her dream of becoming a successful doctor was slipping away, arriving in Rwanda was memorable.

“Coming to Rwanda means a lot and gives us an opportunity to continue our education. It also allows us to graduate. I have high expectations, and I hope I will enjoy the journey. I hope I will conclude my studies successfully and we will graduate as doctors.”

She commended those who received them in Rwanda, in particular the University of Rwanda.

Professor Mamoun Homeida, the chairman of the board of trustees at UMST, who accompanied the students on their journey to Rwanda, expressed the group’s gratitude when he said: “This is a milestone in the history of both institutions and it is also a brotherly gesture …”

“It [the gesture] has shown the world that they [those who are helping] can heal the wounds. This is what people like those in Sudan need,” he added.

He said the high calibre of lecturers teaching in the area of clinical medicine and in the basic sciences, and who were now stranded in Sudan, means they could also teach at the University of Rwanda.