Civil War Raises Financial Concerns For Libyan Students At OU

Tuesday, April 12th 2011, 5:29 pm
By: News 9

Gan Matthews, News 9

NORMAN, Oklahoma -- Civil war in Libya has raised many concerns for Libyans studying in the United States, including those at the University of Oklahoma.

While they are concerned for their families and the state of their country, they're also worried because the students depend upon money from the Ghadaffi government to pay their expenses, including tuition and rent.

"The majority of our Libyan students are sponsored by funding from the Libyan government and have been since they entered the U.S.," said Monica Sharp, OU's International Student Services.

Since the turmoil began in Libya, those funds have been frozen.

Eman Elmazek and her husband Hazem Bunkheila are two of 11 students who attend OU. They're also the parents of three boys and have the normal expenses of any young family. Since the funds were frozen, they have been able to get their allotment for April, but May is uncertain. The family is making alternate plans.

"I'm going to apply for the work legalization," said Bunkheila. "As you know, work legalization would give you 20 hours per week. So maybe you can pay the rent by this money, but you can't like study or finish your study."

While they consider what to do, they both know it's too dangerous to return to Libya at this time.

"I have kids, and I think it's one of my responsibilities to keep them safe from what is happening back home," said Elmazek.

Over 1,000 Libyan nationals are currently studying in the United States.