Days after the start of the massive refugee crisis created by Russia’s war on Ukraine, the Ukrainian government publicly acknowledged that African immigrants seeking to flee violence had faced racist and disparate treatment compared to white Ukrainians. .
Tuesday, Dmytro Kuleba, Ukrainian Foreign Minister tweeted that the invasion of Russia had “affected Ukrainians and non-citizens in many devastating ways”.
“Africans seeking evacuation are our friends and must be given equal opportunity to return to their home countries safely,” the official said, adding that the Ukrainian government “spares no effort to resolve the issue. “.
There have been many reports in recent days of African students and other immigrants face racist treatment as they seek to flee the cities under attack. This includes black people prevented from boarding buses and trains even as white Ukrainians could and had to wait for hours in the cold at the border with Poland.
Earlier Tuesday, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi also acknowledged the ‘different treatment’ between Ukrainians and “non-Ukrainians”, as he puts it.
“There should be absolutely no discrimination between Ukrainians and non-Ukrainians, Europeans and non-Europeans,” the UN official said, adding that the international organization “plans to intervene to try to ensure that everyone receives equal treatment”.
“Everyone is running from the same risks,” he added.
Several African governments have condemned the racism Africans have faced as they seek to leave the war-torn country. Monday, the Nigerian government called the “unfortunate reports” of Ukrainian police “refusing to allow Nigerians to board buses and trains” heading towards the Ukraine-Poland border. South Africa’s head of public diplomacy echoed similar concerns that South African students and other Africans “have been mistreated” on Ukraine’s border with Poland.
More than 600,000 people fled Ukraine since Russia’s attack last week, according to the UN.
The African Union, which represents the 55 countries of the African continent, said on Monday that “reports that Africans are subjected to unacceptable dissimilar treatment would be scandalously racist and in violation [of] international law.” The nations urged all countries to “show the same empathy and support for all people fleeing war, regardless of their racial identity.”