People of color-faced racism in Ukraine. Why are they always standing last in the row to access help?
Racism in Ukraine: The Russian invasion of Ukraine has pushed thousands of people out of their homes and they are now fleeing across borders to escape violence.
European countries that have resisted taking in refugees from the war in Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan for years are now opening doors to Ukrainians. As the world stands in solidarity with Ukraine and its people, the growing refugee crisis spotlight racial bias and inequality in who is and is not allowed to cross international borders.
The recent racist treatment of non-white migrants trying to cross the Ukrainian border has flooded social media.
Videos show how People of color were asked to walk instead of boarding buses and trains by Ukrainian security forces.
Just Ukrainians, if you are black, you should walk- Nigerian medical student.
A Nigerian medical student was one of the many people trying to escape the war in Ukraine. She is currently in Debrecen, Hungary, but this passage was not easy for her.
“I took a commercial taxi but could not make my way to the Polish border as cars were lined up for two days then. Therefore, I decided to cover the rest of the journey and walked for 12 long hours with my entire luggage. Now, the term walking is traumatizing for me,” said Nigerian medical student Jessica Orakpo.
However, the suffering did not end for Jessica. When she reached the shelter, she learned that a bus was going from the shelter straight to the Polish border. But she refrained from boarding the bus because she was a woman of colour.
“They said, Just Ukrainians if you are black, you should walk. And that was an additional 8 hours walk to the Polish border,” said Jessica sharing her experience of racism in Ukraine.
Ukraine acknowledged this differential treatment when Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba tweeted: “Africans seeking evacuation are our friends and must have equal opportunities to return home safely.” Ukraine does not attempt to solve the problem.”
30 Indians after 500 Ukrainians –Saakshi Ijantkar,, an Indian student in Ukraine
Fourth-year medical student Saakshi Ijantkar, from Lviv, western Ukraine, also shared her ordeal with CNN.
“There are three checkpoints we have to pass through to get to the border. Many people are stuck there because Indians are not allowed through. Thirty Indians are allowed entry after 500 Ukrainians are allowed in. From the first to the second border checkpoint, you must walk 4 to 5 kilometers. Taxis serve Ukraine and buses, and all other nations have to walk. The Indians and other nations were treated as second-class citizens,” the 22-year-old from Mumbai told CNN.
Not only videos were circulated where Indians were beaten up for no reason.
They treated us well- Faizan Mallik, an Indian student
However, we also contacted one of the Indian students, Faizan Mallik, now in Romania. As per Faizan, he could cross the Ukrainian border with 700-800 Indian students. When most of the Indian students were complaining about Racism in Ukraine. Faizan did not face any such discrimination. In contrast, he said, “They (Ukrainian soldiers) are treating us well.” Even the United Nations has condemned racist acts shown by the fleeing thousand.
Filippo Grandi, the United Nations’ high commissioner for refugees, said: “There should be no discrimination between Ukrainians and non-Ukrainians, Europeans and non-Europeans… (UN) plans to intervene so that everyone receives equal treatment.” He went on to say, “Everyone is fleeing the same risks.”
Several accounts surfaced online of overseas students from Africa, Asia, and the Middle East denied access to transportation or not allowed to cross borders into neighboring countries. Whether it was war, famine, or any other natural and man-made calamity, the people of colour are always seen standing last in the row to access help and other facilities. The question remains, until when and why?