Africans trying to flee the Ukraine unable to cross the border

By Toniann Gooden
March 14, 2022

Ukrainians are desperate to escape Ukraine.

Yet, authorities at Ukraine’s border refused to let Africans, who are among the Ukrainians, cross the border into Poland, according to recent coverage from the New York Times.  

When they’ve tried to escape to safety in Poland, Ukrainian authorities beat them while white Ukrainians are allowed to leave. Racism persists even in times of war. Africans who had lived in Ukraine said they were stranded at the border for days, without food or shelter. They were assaulting individuals with sticks and ripping their jackets off. They were also pushed back to line after standing in line for days.  Africans were also banned from boarding trains headed to the border, according to news reporters.

Chineye Mbagwu, a 24-year-old doctor from Nigeria who lived in the western Ukrainian town of Ivano-Frankivsk, told New York Times reporters: “The Ukrainian border guards were not letting us through,” she said in a phone interview, her voice trembling. “They were beating people up with sticks and tearing off their jackets,” she added. “They would slap them, beat them and push them to the end of the queue. It was awful.” 

The African Union and Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari have both expressed their concern with the treatment of African migrants fleeing Ukraine. Africans have been denied boarding on trains heading to the border.

Anton Heraschenko, Ukraine’s deputy interior minister, denied that his country was preventing Black people from leaving. He added that the border patrol’s primary priority is to release women and children. Border patrol does not have any problems releasing African Americans.

“It is heartbreaking to hear that African are mistreated by Ukraine security officers while trying to leave Ukraine,” Omobola Amao, junior health science major, said. “I offer my deepest sympathy to the African that have to endure the realities of racism during the invasion attack on Ukraine. It is immoral for racism to dictate who gets access to safety.”

Because of conflicts, where staying is risky, race should not be a factor in determining whether or not you are allowed to travel to a safe region.

Foreigners entering into Poland were welcomed and sent to the hospital due to injuries inflicted as they were trying to reach safety. A Russian military buildup on Ukraine’s border in 2021 and 2022 heightened tensions between the two nations and damaged relations.

People protest against the war and Russian armed aggressive Vladimir Putin. Americans stand in defense of Ukraine. Photo by:hannatv.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has sent over 100,000 troops to Ukraine’s borders, ready to launch an attack. Ukraine is at the heart of the conflict because its sheer existence as an independent, democratic state jeopardizes Moscow’s ability to rule over its neighbors.

Putin wants to keep the totalitarian regime in Russia that he has constructed over the last two decades.

Thousands of innocent people have fled in the thick of the violence since Russia’s invasion began. Many are crossing into European Union countries. The majority are Ukrainians, but also students and migrant workers from Africa, Asia and other parts of the world are frantic to get out.

The number of Ukrainians fleeing topped one million and the number is growing by the hour. At least 505,000 Ukrainians have traveled to Poland, 139,000 to Hungary, 97,000 to Moldova, 51,000 to Romania, 72,000 to Slovakia and 90,000 to other European countries so far.

Pray for Ukraine. Photo by:depositphotos.

A total of over 48,000 people have gone to Russia, with a few hundred more going to Belarus. Women and children make up the majority of the refugees, with an increasing proportion of unaccompanied minors.

Ukraine has also enlisted males between the ages of 18 and 60 to fight and they are not allowed to leave.


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Toniann Gooden

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