Africans in Ukraine barred from safe passage to Poland: How can we help?
On 24 February 2022, Russian President Vladimir Putin launched a military operation in Ukraine. Ukrainians began fleeing as Russian missiles exploded across the country. G7 leaders and the world at large immediately reacted, condemning the Russian government and rendering social assistance. Europe and North America have already started accepting Ukrainian refugees, and we have seen several crowd funds set up online to assist the Ukrainian army and the now hundreds of thousands of displaced Ukrainians.
While all this is happening and we as a world continue to help, it is disheartening to hear and see on social media the pleas of people of colour to also get help.
People of colour living in Ukraine have taken to social media to report racist encounters as they try to escape the warzone and enter Poland. At the Polish border, it is alleged that the African nationals are forbidden to cross, being “whipped and threatened” by border guards.
Many of these Africans residing in Ukraine are students. They have reported that border guards are only allowing Ukrainians through first. They are accusing Polish border guards of racism as their nationality is the sole reason they are being disallowed.
Claims have circulated that only African men were being barred, but the African nationals continue to report otherwise, with mothers and their children also being stranded in the brutally cold weather.
They are fleeing missiles and bombs to only be met with threats of bullets at the Polish border.
And if they do get across the border, they have reported being chased by police and are being barred from hotels on the premise that they are not Ukrainians.
Russia’s invasion breaches international law and international human rights. All people of Ukraine need our help and we must continue to provide assistance to every single citizen and resident fleeing and seeking safety. These acts of racism being perpetrated by border guards does not justify Putin’s tyranny.
Assistance for Africans in Ukraine:
As the reports of abuse at the Polish border continue to flood social media, African Embassies have deployed assistance.
South African Ambassadors in European countries have been driving and doing as much as they could to receive their nationals and offer further support.
The Embassy of Nigeria in Romania has also put out a notice advising Nigerians to enter through the Romanian border.
Bashir Ahmad, Personal Assistant on Digital and New Media to the President of Nigeria has tweeted out numbers of staff members at the Romanian entry points to help Nigerians arriving from Ukraine.
The Ghanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has staff at several European borders ready to assist Ghanaians to cross the respective borders.
What can you do?
Share these Twitter threads
Many Twitter users have also started threads of resources for Africans stuck in Ukraine. Keep raising awareness by resharing their posts and amplifying their voices.
Make global authorities aware
Alert your Government officials of the situation by tagging them in your posts and emailing them
Donate to help Africans in Ukraine
Help to connect Africans in Ukraine with eachother
Share these Telegram and Whatsapp chats with people of colour residing in Ukraine:
Share this post with the hashtag #AfricansInUkraine to raise awareness.