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Hypocrisy? Treatment Of Africans At Borders Highlights Racism In Europe
War can bring out the best in humanity. We see the best as people from all over the world are denouncing Russia’s decision to invade Ukraine. But as it turns out – the best of humanity as it relates to this unfortunate circumstance – is only playing out for a majority of those who are white, while the treatment of African residents is bringing racism in Europe to the forefront.
The criticism comes amid the international community coming together to provide food, shelter, and aid to the more than 4 million people the United Nations estimated will leave the country – a move the U.N. says will “likely” become Europe’s largest refugee crisis of the century.
As European countries open their arms to white refugees, we’re simultaneously watching the worst of humanity as racism rears its ugly head.
There are too many accounts of what’s happening to Black people trying to escape the conflict. The majority of them are students, as Ukraine was home to tens of thousands of foreign students, mostly from Nigeria, Morocco, and Egypt.
In one heartbreaking story, Jessica Orakpo, a medical student from Nigeria, said she walked more than 12 hours to reach the Poland-Ukraine border after she was told she would not be allowed on the bus.
“Only Ukrainians. That’s all. If you are Black, you should walk,” she says a Ukrainian official told her.
Student doctor, and mother Korrine Sky, who is a British-Zimbabwean national, documented what she calls “dehumanizing treatment” at the Ukrainian border on Twitter.
Sky says she waited days to go back home to the United Kingdom and in an interview with The Independent, details how she was threatened at gunpoint when trying to flee all because of the color of her skin.
But it doesn’t stop there.
She says she also faced pushback from United Kingdom officials once she arrived.
Now stuck at the airport facing hostility from border force. I’ve honestly had enough the treatment of Black people fleeing Ukraine has honestly been disgusting at every point. I’m so tired of being strong I’m at my breaking point— Koko 🇺🇦 (@korrinesky) March 3, 2022
Calling Out Hypocrisy
What’s happening at the European borders has raised concern among the international community, including the United Nations.
“I have joined other independent experts to call attention specifically to the discriminatory treatment of people of African Descent and others,” says Tendayi Achiume who serves as The UN Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism.
Achiume is calling on government officials across the European Union to do the same and take urgent action to protect people from facing discrimination at the borders.
She adds, “International law requires non-discriminatory protection of human rights, and all actors must respect this fundamental principle of non-discrimination, especially in times of great crisis.”
The NAACP is also calling out the treatment of African people at European borders and says it’s working with its international partner organization to ensure the safety of Africans who are seeking refuge from the conflict.
It’s unconscionable that African students and families are facing racism and discrimination at the Ukrainian border. We are actively working closely with our international partners, the White House, the CBC and civil rights organizations to ensure all are able to evacuate safely.— NAACP (@NAACP) March 2, 2022
Like the NAACP, people and organizations are stepping in to help Africans stranded in Ukraine and other neighboring countries get home safely.
Sky is leading the charge through an organization she co-founded known as Black Women For Black Lives.
It’s an organization that’s a part of a growing number of groups in Ukraine of African students leading their own rescue efforts. Since launching, more than $180,000 has been donated to help Black people leave the area.