Racism against Africans in the midst of the Russia-Ukraine conflict

Whilst the world stands with Eastern-European country Ukraine in the face of threats from its neighbour, Russia, there has emerged some disturbing information about the seeming susceptible country that has raised serious questions, especially on the African continent.

Russia has invaded Ukraine, following the latter’s expressed interest in joining forces with the West to strengthen ties and join NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization). Amidst sanctions by the European Union (EU) and the supply of lethal aid to Ukraine by same, the latest has been an order from Russian President, Vladimir Putin for the Russian nuclear deterrent force to be on high alert.

Families, young and old, students and workers alike have started moving out of the country and seeking refuge in neighbouring countries including Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania among others.

Among these are nationals who are not Ukrainians, including Africans.

It’s disturbing, however, news emerging of some African nationals complaining about being marginalized amidst the tensions.

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Africans in Ukraine allege racism amidst Russia-Ukraine conflict:

United Kingdom’s media outlet, ‘The Independent’ reported earlier Monday that, “scores of African migrants in Ukraine are being blocked from fleeing to safety as Russian attacks continue to devastate the country.”

Some of them, including some Nigerians, have alleged facing racism and discrimination at the border between Poland and Ukraine.

UK’s media outlet, The Guardian also reports that some Africans say, “officials rudely stopped them from crossing the border for days, despite the cold and lack of food and other supplies, even as they let white refugees enter the country”.

Some of these African nationals have since taken to social media platforms including Instagram and Twitter to express their displeasure and fright about the situation as well as to share videos.

Videos showing a Ukrainian border guard vehicle with voices in the background indicating that a ‘black girl’ was prevented from joining, sparked outrage on social media with many Africans condemning the situation.

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Nigeria calls for answers after citizens complain:

Following this, Nigeria’s Foreign Minister, Georffrey Onyeama called on the Ukrainian Foreign Minister, Dmytro Kuleba to clarify the situation, the Guardian has reported.

The Nigerian government has expressed disappointment at ongoing reports of maltreatment of some Nigerian nationals attempting to flee Ukraine.

Ukraine’s Foreign Minister responds:

Dmytro Kuleba responded to the situation by expressing concern about some Nigerian citizens being stopped from crossing the border while promising to launch quick investigations into the matter.
The Guardian further indicated that the border guards have since been instructed to allow all foreigners to leave.
According to the news outlet, “Polish officials on their part denied the accusations and a spokesperson called the social media reports “nonsense”.

Ghanaians in Ukraine safe:

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Ghana’s Foreign Minister, Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey, has however indicated that Ghanaian Students in Ukraine have not encountered any such incidents.
A statement released on Monday said some 38 out of some 220 Ghanaians who left the Ukrainian border have so far had no issues. It however said that some 460 Ghanaians are still on their way to the neighbouring countries.

The stance of Ghana and other African countries on the Ukrainian crisis:

So far Ghana has indicated strongly, its stance on the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine. In a tweet by Ghana’s Foreign Minister, Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey, she noted that “Ghana condemns unreservedly, this unprovoked attack on the sovereignty and territorial integrity of a United Nations Member State,” while calling on Russia to withdraw and end the war.
Meanwhile, other African countries including South Africa, Kenya and Gabon have condemned the attacks by Russia and called for a withdrawal of their actions.