17 Belgian exchange students asked to return early from Hong Kong as unrest continues
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17 Belgian exchange students asked to return early from Hong Kong as unrest continues

The unrest in Hong Kong has escalated in violence since police shot a protester on Monday. Credit: Studio Incendo/Flickr.

The Catholic University of Leuven has asked for 17 Belgian exchange students studying in Hong Kong to return early as unrest in the country continues.

“We have been following the situation in Hong Kong closely for some time and have made this decision now that it appears that the universities where these students are enrolled have suspended classes due to the situation,” Catholic University of Leuven (KU Leuven) spokesperson Sigrid Somers said to HLN.

Citing safety concerns, Hong Kong’s Education Bureau announced that kindergartens, primary and secondary schools would be closed on Thursday.

Similarly, as universities have become focal points for clashes police and anti-government demonstrators in recent days- police raided on Tuesday the Chinese University of Hong Kong – some third-level classes have also been suspended, writes the South China Morning Post.

“We are currently in contact with [the Belgian exchange students] to support and guide them on their return. Once they are back in Leuven, we will also help with the further course of their studies and exams,” explains Somers.

This news comes as the Belgian Ministry for Foreign Affairs updated its travel advice concerning Hong Kong on Thursday.

“Belgian students who are currently in Hong Kong are advised to return home early,” the update explains.

“Students who have planned to study in Hong Kong during the first semester of 2020 are advised not to travel to the region for the time being and to follow current events and this advice closely,” the update continues.

The unrest, which was sparked by a now-withdrawn extradition bill, is in its sixth month.

Evie McCullough
The Brussels Times