Ukraine: AU, African states voice concern over reported discrimination against Africans, EU says there is no proven discrimination
The reports of discrimination against African nationals trying to flee Ukraine have caused uproar, after Africans, mostly students, have accused Ukrainian security forces of racially profiling them, and of stopping them from getting on trains.
The current Chair of the African Union and President of Senegal, Macky Sall, and the Chairperson of the AU Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat, have expressed concern at reports that African citizens on the Ukrainian side of the border are being refused the right to cross the border to safety.
The two Chairpersons said they were following closely the developments in Ukraine and underlined that “all people have the right to cross international borders during conflict, and as such, should enjoy the same rights to cross to safety from the conflict in Ukraine, notwithstanding their nationality or racial identity.”
Reports that Africans are singled out for unacceptable dissimilar treatment would be shockingly racist and in breach of international law, the AU Chairpersons said, urging all countries to respect international law and show the same empathy and support to all people fleeing war notwithstanding their racial identity.
They commended the efforts by AU Member States and their embassies in neighboring countries to receive and orientate African citizens and their families trying to cross the border from Ukraine to safety.
At a special session of the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday, African envoys also spoke out strongly at the mistreatment of African nationals trying to flee Ukraine.
The diplomats described this situation as unacceptable and reiterated their rejection of racism and demand for the respect for human dignity, calling for the fair treatment of all people in distress.
They urged European countries to take steps to resolve this situation as all people have the right to cross international borders during times of conflict.
Several African students took to social media to denounce the discrimination they suffered, saying they had been bypassed to allow Ukrainians and other European nationals to cross the border into Poland first.
They said they were made to spend hours and days in freezing temperatures without food or sanitation facilities.
In response to the concerns voiced by the African Union and African countries, the European Union said that there is no proven discrimination and that the European External Action Service, headed by Josep Borrell, has exchanged Tuesday on this subject with the authorities of both Ukraine and Poland.
Warsaw on its part rejected on Tuesday the accusations of racism. “Poland helps everyone regardless of their nationality, ethnicity or race,” the Polish authorities said.
Some western journalists and analysts were also finger-pointed for their comments on the war in Ukraine that reveal a eurocentrism and distressing discrimination as they differentiate between the refugees from Ukraine and those from other countries, based on their geographical belonging to Europe, their race, mode of dress… not taking into account the fact that they are also fleeing the war zone.