Ukrainian Authorities Have Been Accused of Preventing Africans From Fleeing Ukraine to Poland

More than 12,000 African students from Morocco, Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, South Africa, Ethiopia, Somalia, and other countries studying in Ukraine, are attracted by the high quality of education and affordable costs.

Africans fleeing Ukraine—most of them students—have said they faced racism and discrimination at the Medyka border between Poland and Ukraine while trying to leave Ukraine. ‘They won’t let Africans in. Blacks without European passports cannot cross the border… They’re pushing us back just because we’re Black!’ said a Nigerian student, to FRANCE 24.

Despite Ukraine’s cold weather and a shortage of food and other supplies, several Africans claim that officials forcibly barred them from crossing the border for days, while allowing White refugees to cross to Poland. Isaac, a Nigerian man trying to get into Poland told the BBC that border staff told him they were not tending to Africans… We’ve been chased back, we’ve been hit with police armed with sticks,’ he said.

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Ukrainian foreign minister, Dmytro Kuleba, has said that Ukrainian border guards have been instructed to allow all foreigners to leave. Poland’s ambassador to Nigeria, Joanna Tarnawska, also dismissed claims of unfair treatment. Everybody receives equal treatment,’ she told Nigerian journalists. I can assure you that I have reports that already some Nigerian nationals have crossed the border into Poland.’ A spokesperson for the Ukrainian border guards also denied reports of discriminatory practices. He stressed that only Ukrainian men aged between 18 and 60—who are required to join the war effort—were barred from leaving the country.

More than 12,000 African students from Morocco, Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, South Africa, Ethiopia, Somalia, and other countries are studying in Ukraine, attracted by the high quality of education and affordable costs.

The Nigerian presidency has condemned the racism and discrimination of Nigerians at the Ukraine-Poland border saying: All who flee a conflict situation have the same right to safe passage under UN convention and the colour of their passport or their skin should make no difference.’ According to a daily press release by Nigeria’s foreign ministry, the Nigerian government has been making efforts to evacuate Nigerians in Ukraine. So far, officials of the Nigerian embassy in Romania, Hungary and Poland have received and accommodated 130, 74, and 52 Nigerians respectively. The Nigerian government has also advised its citizens leaving Ukraine to head for Hungary or Romania, instead of Poland.

On Thursday, 24 February 2021, Russia launched an invasion on Ukraine following weeks of military build-up along the two countries’ border. More than 210 civilians have died including children, according to Ukraine’s human rights commission. Also, according to the UN, the conflict has prompted more than 500,000 people to flee Ukraine

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