The plight of Africans attempting to cross borders into safe haven amidst the recent Russian/Ukraine crisis has drawn reaction across boards with the latest from the African Union.
The current Chair of the African Union and President of the Republic of Senegal, Macky Sall, and Moussa Faki Mahamat, the Chairperson of the African Union Commission made the observations through a statement issued on February 28, 2022.
According to the statement, “Reports that Africans are singled out for unacceptable dissimilar treatment would be shockingly racist and in breach of international law. In this regard, the Chairpersons urge all countries to respect international law and show the same empathy and support to all people fleeing war notwithstanding their racial identity,” the statement reads in part.
The AU reaction came days after its European counterpart the European Union had condemned the invasion of Ukraine by Russian troops, The EU labelled the attack as “barbaric” and condemned the cynical arguments to justify it.
Also reacting to reports of discrimination at the Ukraine/Poland borders, Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari remarked that “All who flee a conflict situation have the same right to safe passage under the UN Convention, and the colour of their passport or their skin should make no difference”
Meanwhile, President Buhari has approved the sum of $8.5 million to evacuate at least 5,000 Nigerians who are stranded as a result of the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine.
Nigeria’s Minister of State, Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Zubairu Dada, announced this Wednesday after the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo at the Council Chambers of the Presidential Villa in Abuja on Wednesday.
An unverified video shared by one Twitter user @Damilare_arah shows images of people of colour in some confrontation with some Caucasians in what has been alleged to be a fight over who boards a moving train at the Polish Ukraine border.
It was reported that three Nigerian students, Joseph, Eric and Francis, were among the tens of thousands of people who crossed from Ukraine into Poland on Monday.
One of the students, Joseph, a computer engineering student told newsmen “There is a lot of discrimination going on there, we actually had to beg people to take us to the border so we could find a way to escape.”
Media now another theatre of war
However, Poland, which is one of the countries allowing entry for people fleeing the humanitarian crisis caused by the war in Ukraine and at the heart of the reported allegations of discriminating against Africans has denied been picky about receiving refugees.
In a report made available in the official Polish government website, it claimed “In recent days, false information about the alleged mistreatment of particular countries citizens by Polish and Ukrainian services has appeared in the public space. Manipulated photos and videos circulate on social media to discredit and tarnish the image of both Ukraine and Poland. The media have become another theatre of war, which is why we urge you not to be manipulated”.
“reports suggesting that Polish authorities are segregating refugees from Ukraine on the basis of race or religion are both false and outrageous.”
“Poland admits citizens of different countries in accordance with the existing procedures. We urge for prudence and to refrain from disseminating disinformation,” the Chancellery of the Prime Minister of Poland said via Twitter.
As at press-time, 3 March 2022, the Polish government through the Chancellery of the Prime Minister of Poland on Twitter claimed over 500,000 refugees have entered Poland since the invasion of Ukraine by Russian troops.
Among Africans who have been living in Ukraine, there are students estimated in thousands. Available estimates suggest that roughly 20 per cent of Ukraine’s foreign students are African, including 4,000 Nigerians.