While the world rallies in support of the Ukrainian people, it seems Ukraine and its neighbors don’t share the same empathy for many African students and emigres trying to escape the country.
Over the weekend tragic video emerged on social media that allegedly depicted hundreds of Africans being blocked by police and others as they tried to board the same trains that were taking white Ukrainian women and children to safety in neighboring countries. Other social media posts and some news reports said that countries receiving Ukrainian refugees have resisted allowing Africans fleeing the fighting to enter their countries, while at the same time their native countries have been caught flat-footed in responding to the crisis.
Cities under siege across Ukraine are home to tens of thousands of African students studying medicine, engineering and military affairs. Morocco, Nigeria and Egypt are among the top 10 countries with foreign students in Ukraine, together supplying over 16,000 students, according to the education ministry. Thousands of Indian students are also trying to flee.
What was meant to be a cheaper alternative to studying in Western Europe or the United States has turned overnight into a war zone as Russian tanks, planes and ships launch the biggest European invasion of another nation since World War Two.
With flights grounded, African governments thousands of miles away are struggling to support their students. The students Reuters spoke to said they had had no help from home.
Meanwhile, several social media threads shared accounts of Africans attempting to make their way onto trains and into neighboring countries. The French-language version of news agency AJ+ shared an unverified video that showed a Black woman being blocked from a train by a man in a uniform while a white woman was allowed on. The video’s caption, translated from French, read in part, “Black Africans are treated with racism and contempt in Ukraine and Poland.”
AJ+’s English language account did not share the video.
Others shared similar stories across Twitter.
This story is developing.