Race is apparently a factor for people trying to flee Ukraine as fighting rages following Russia’s invasion on Feb. 24.
African students and migrant workers have been sharing stories with reporters and on social media alleging Ukrainian authorities denied them entry onto buses and trains because of the color of their skin.
“Some people have gone to get buses, but they’re not allowing Black people basically onto the buses. They’re prioritizing Ukrainians. That’s what they say,” Korrine Sky, an African student in Ukraine, told Business Insider.
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Another person told South African news publication News24 that there’s a “black line” for evacuees of color.
“We have Congolese people stuck for two days and had their passports taken away. This morning, students were beaten because they didn’t stand in the ‘black line’,” Ukraine Crisis Evacuation Committee member Lorraine Blauw told News24. Blauw described the treatment of Africans as “horrible.”
“These soldiers have taken it upon themselves to let the Ukrainian women and children go first and to let our people be stuck with no shelter, food or water,” she added.
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Some Africans who did manage to escape said they were turned away at the Polish border because of a “no blacks” policy. One student who uses the Twitter handle @nzekiev tweeted video Saturday night of soldiers pointing guns at a group of Black evacuees who repeatedly shouted “we don’t have arms.”
The video included the caption, “Watch how they are threatening to shoot us! We are currently at the Ukraine -Poland border. Their police and army refused to let Africans cross, they only allow Ukrainian. Some have slept here for two days under this scorching cold weather, while many have gone back to Lviv.”
Watch how they are threatening to shoot us!
We are currently at the Ukraine -Poland border.
Their Police and Army refused to let Africans cross they only allow Ukrainian.
Some have slept here for 2 days under this scorching cold weather, while many have gone back to Lviv. pic.twitter.com/47YG4gxFC4
— Nze (@nzekiev) February 27, 2022
News24 posted video online Sunday from a South African student which purportedly shows Black people being separated from Ukrainians at the Polish border. A woman narrating the video said, “We’re being pushed, we’re being shoved. We are denied access and there are so many of us compared to the Ukrainians. The Ukrainians get special treatment while the Africans are waiting outside in the cold in big herds.”
Some Nigerian nationals said they contacted the Nigerian embassy in Kyiv for help, but have so far been ignored by their own government.
“There has been no embassy response,” Anjola Ero-Phillips, president of the Nigerian Students Union in Lviv, told Al Jazeera. “All they say is check the website and the last update on the website is Jan. 26. Everybody is absolutely on their own.”
According to published reports, thousands of students from Egypt, Nigeria, and Morocco are studying engineering and medicine in Ukraine because it’s cheaper than attending universities in Western Europe and the United States.
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