World, Russia-Ukraine War

Some Africans fleeing Ukraine claim they face racism at border

African students make up 20% of foreign students in Ukraine

Fatma Esma Arslan   | 02.03.2022
Some Africans fleeing Ukraine claim they face racism at border

DAKAR, Senegal

As the Russia-Ukraine war rages on, some Africans attempting to flee the country claimed they experienced racist treatment at the border because of their skin color.

Eswatini student Vkile Dlamini, who crossed to Romania from Ukraine, said that she undertook the most difficult journey of her life.

"We were exposed to a lot of racism. Police pointed guns at us. I am still getting over it. I was physically and mentally exhausted,” she said.

Victor Eldred from Nigeria said: "In Lviv, only Ukrainians were allowed on the train. We waited in the cold for hours, but somehow, after a difficult journey, we managed to get out of Ukraine.”

Eldred who reach Slovakia said the Nigerian government has not gotten in touch with him yet.

Another student, Issa Dasylva from Senegal, who reached Poland, said that he did not encounter any problems at the border crossing.

Noting that it took 48 to 72 hours to reach the border, Dasylva said: "The Senegalese authorities paid close attention to us. I have not seen any Senegalese having problems crossing the border. The Senegalese Embassy in Poland is in constant communication with us."

20% of foreign students in Ukraine are African

Ukraine is among the first choice for foreign students due to its affordable fees.

According to the data released in 2020 by Ukraine's Education Ministry, about 80,000 students from 158 countries are studying in the country.

Among them, India tops the list with 18,429, Morocco with 8,233, Azerbaijan with 5,470, and Nigeria with 4,379.

African students make up 20% of foreign students in Ukraine.

After videos on social media showing Africans being denied access to trains evacuating people from Ukraine triggered outrage, Ukraine's Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said in a tweet: “Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has affected Ukrainians and non-citizens in many devastating ways. Africans seeking evacuation are our friends and need to have equal opportunities to return to their home countries safely. Ukraine’s government spares no effort to solve the problem.”

Russia's war on Ukraine has been met with outrage from the international community, with the European Union, UK and US implementing a range of economic sanctions against Russia.

Russia was further isolated after its planes were barred from flying in European and Canadian airspace, and a number of its banks were kicked out of the SWIFT international banking system.

So far, at least 136 civilians have been killed in Ukraine, including 13 children, and 400 others injured, including 26 children, according to UN figures.

Some 680,000 people have fled Ukraine to neighboring countries, the UN Refugee Agency said Tuesday.

*Writing by Seda Sevencan

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