UAE parents of students stranded in the US worried by riots

200529 US riots
A woman reacts on a street as tear gas is used by riot police to disperse protesters as demonstrations continue after a white police officer was caught on a bystander’s video pressing his knee into the neck of African-American man George Floyd, who later died at a hospital, in Minneapolis, Minnesota, U.S., May 28, 2020.
Image Credit: Reuters

Dubai: UAE-based parents of students stranded in the US have become even more concerned for their kids welfare after the riots that have broken out across the country following the death of George Floyd at the hands of police in Minneapolis last week.

Shanaya Soans

Sandra Soans, mother of Shanaya, who is studying in the University of South Florida in Tampa, said, “Our daughter lives in a residential apartment just across her university campus. On Sunday early morning she called me in a state of shock after receiving an alert text message from her university warning students to stay indoors as shots were being fired due to civil unrest in the city.

“She was well aware of the protest going on but she did not think it would get so bad. What started as a peaceful non-violent protest has now ended up in flames. As parents, we are worried for the safety of our children. We hope the relevant government authorities do the needful to look after our children in this horrible pandemic situation.”

Shanaya has been recounting tales of horror to her mother and Sandra wants her daughter back home to UAE as soon as possible.

“She has been hearing the sound of sirens all night long and has been afraid to sleep. We want the embassies to get involved now and bring our children back home to safety.”

Sandra and her husband Johnson have lived in the UAE for 25 years.

“I moved to Dubai from India after marriage along with my husband who heads the operations of a US based company. Both our children were raised in the UAE and we want our baby home.”

Alex Hamza

American expat Alex Hamza studying in Minneapolis, where Floyd was killed. His mother Sarah Rabah said he is staying with friends right now as he has no where to go.

“He was supposed to fly back to the UAE the day after they decided to close boarders. We are worried now about the violent protests in the US.”

Muskan Bhat

Parents Omar and Shaheen Javed Bhat are equally concerned about the safety of their 20-year-old daughter Muskan who also studies at University of South Florida, Tampa.

“We request the UAE and US authorities to do the needful for the safety of our children. My daughter is staying in the university dorm. We have been registering her details on the ICA website and still waiting for approvals. There is so much of fear and uncertainty and we feel so helpless,” said the tearful father.

“It is a humble request from parents like to me ensure our children are protected.”

Another mother in Dubai, Urmila Sinha said she hopes students can return on special flights.

Shrestha Sinha

Urmila’s daughter Shrestha who just graduated in May from the University of North Carolina in Charlotte, has been living in her apartment alone waiting to hear news on returning to UAE.

“She is a UAE resident who has tried to obtain the approval to return to the UAE since April with no luck,” said her mother.

Other parents are equally worried. 

Hana Taha

Hadeel Elsawa and Ashraf Taha are terrified for their daughter Hana studying in Florida. “She has been stranded in the US and not being able to return. We are petrified now with respect to the violent protests, raids and mass looting. We fear for her life,” said Hadeel.

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