Africans In Ukraine: “As Long As You Are Black, No One Likes You”

"As long as you are Black, no one likes you,"
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Photos: YouTube\Twitter

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — According to the latest government data compiled by UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, more than one million Ukrainians have fled to neighboring countries to escape the Russian invasion. That number could soar to more than four million in the coming months.

"I have worked in refugee emergencies for almost 40 years, and rarely have I seen an exodus as rapid as this one," said Filippo Grandi, UN High Commissioner for Refugees. "Hour by hour, minute by minute, more people are fleeing the terrifying reality of violence. Countless have been displaced inside the country. And unless there is an immediate end to the conflict, millions more are likely to be forced to flee Ukraine."

Most people have left Ukraine for Poland, Hungary, Moldova, Romania, and Slovakia, while others have moved towards various other European countries. But, out of the mass of people leaving Ukraine, thousands come from other countries, too, like Africa, Asia, and the Mideast.

According to data from Ukraine's Ministry of Education and Science, in 2019 there were about 80,000 international students studying in Ukraine from 158 countries, the majority of which — about 23% — come from India, followed by Morocco, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan and Nigeria.

As the Russian invasion of Ukraine continues, foreign students attempting to leave the country say they are experiencing racism and discrimination by Ukrainian border authorities. That includes people of African descent.

"As long as you are Black, no one likes you," said Ethel Ansaeh Otto, a student from Ghana attempting to flee Ukraine. "Mostly, they would consider white people first. White people first, Indian people, Arabic people, before Black people."

On Twitter, the hashtag "AfricansInUkraine" is being used to raise awareness worldwide about the mistreatment of Africans at the border. Some people, non-Ukrainians, have also complained about being forced to wait longer in line to cross the Polish border than Ukrainians — and in some cases felt treated poorly. "I remember they punched a certain Black guy — a policeman in Ukraine, punches a certain Black guy for nothing," Otto said. Read more.

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