Anti-Black discrimination rages as thousands flee from Ukraine


As the war rages on, many Black residents of Ukraine are finding themselves unable to flee while others make their escapes.

Since the start of the Russo-Ukrianian War, foreign students have been trying to leave Ukraine, but they are experiencing racist and discriminatory treatment by Ukrainian security and border officials, and in some cases, they haven’t been allowed to leave Ukraine.

Ukraine was home to about 76,000 foreign students; nearly one-fourth of that population contained Africans specifically coming from countries like Nigeria, Egypt, and Morocco. Some of the other foreign students who are trapped in Ukraine are from India. 

“The Ukrainian border guards were not letting us through,” said Chinye Mbagwu, a 24-year-old Nigerian doctor who was residing in Ukraine. “They were beating people up with sticks… [they] would slap [the students], beat them and push them to the end of the queue. It was awful.”

At a Kyiv train station, police officers claimed that they would prioritize women and children, but African women (including some who were even pregnant), children, and men were not let onto the trains. People pleaded for the women and children to be let onto the trains, but requests were denied until they became persistent. 

At a station in Lviv, Ukrainian officers claimed that only Ukrainian nations were allowed to pass, but that was proven wrong as only Ukrainans were allowed to pass. 

The consensus is that the problem is only with the authorities. Many Ukrainian and Polish citizens have been helpful to the non-white refugees.

However, many of the Ukranian and Polish citizens have displayed discriminatory and racist behaviors towards the non-white refugees. The discrimnation is not only present in Ukraine but also in areas where these escapees seek refuge.

On Feb. 28, Polish white supremacists assaulted three black refugees. It is reported that the white supremacists “have baseball bats and bottles” to terrorize any refugees of color that enter Poland.

The Ukrainian and Polish government’s deny that there has been any racism and claim that all of these accusations were reports of Russian disinformation campaigns, despite the substantial evidence from the African refugees with social media posts and videos, and personal statements from them, as well.

“We will release all foreigners without hindrance” said Deputy interior minister of Ukraine Anton Herascheko, as he denied that Ukraine was preventing foreigners from leaving the country.

Both the African Union and President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria have condemned the treatment of Africans fleeing Ukraine. 

“All who flee a conflict situation have the same right to safe passage under UN convention and the color of their passport or their skin should make no difference,” said Nigerian President Buhari regarding the reports of Ukrainian officials discriminating against Africans.

Many African governments have been hurrying to move out their citizens from Ukraine. 

And some countries have arranged fights with their citizens who have managed to make it across the border. 

The gravity of the situation can be seen not just in Ukraine, but globally and in our own environment here at Parkdale.

“I am not surprised abut the discrimination,” said Nigerian-American Parkdale senior Mistura Muritala. “As an African, I feel like we should be where we are wanted, not where we are targeted and discriminated against. I am at least 99% sure that a lot of Afrricans travel out of their country for a better life[,] and I feel that we should have a system in place that lets us know which countries are our allies.”

Muritala continued to say that she has seen African and Asians showing support to Ukraine and condemn Russia’s behavior and the war, but in return these efforts have been met with discrimination. She also stated how such discrmination is a trend in history. 

And more Africans all around the world feel hurt because of this discriminatory behavior from Ukraine.

“We’re all human,” said a Nigerian student Micheal who fled Ukraine and only wanted to give out his first name. “They should not discriminate against us because of the color of our skin.”

Although many believe that racism is a problem of the past, current events like such in Ukraine seem to prove otherwise. 

“The situation tells me that racism can never be completely erased and that in order to provide equality all around there has to be universal understanding by everyone especially in the political system,” said Muritala.