Anger at treatment of Africans fleeing Ukraine

Nigeria’s government has condemned reports that its citizens, and those of other African countrieshave been stopped from leaving war-torn Ukraine.

Isaac, a Nigerian man trying to get into Poland, said border staff told him they were “not tending to Africans”.

“We’ve been chased back, we’ve been hit with police sticks,” he told the BBC.

South African foreign office official, Clayson Monyela, also said students had been “badly treated” at the border.

There have also been numerous reports of Ukrainian security officials preventing Africans from catching buses and trains going to the border.

Osemen, from Nigeria, told the BBC he had tried to get on a train in Lviv to take him to the Polish border but was told only Ukrainians would be allowed on board.

Nigeria’s President, Muhammadu Buhari, said there were about 4,000 Nigerians in Ukraine, mostly students.

He said one group had repeatedly been refused entry to Poland so they travelled back into Ukraine to head for Hungary instead.

“All who flee a conflict situation have the same right to safe passage under the United Nations (UN) Convention, and the colour of their passport or their skin should make no difference,” Mr Buhari said in a tweet.

More than 500,000 Ukrainians have managed to flee the Russian invasion so far.

University student, Ruqqaya, from Nigeria was studying medicine in Kharkiv in the east of the country when the city was attacked. She walked for 11 hours overnight before she arrived at the Medyka crossing with Poland.

“When I came here there were black people sleeping on the street,” she told the BBC.

She says she was told by armed guards to wait as Ukrainians had to be let through first. She watched busloads of people, whom she described as white, being allowed through the border while only a handful of Africans were selected from the queue. After waiting for many hours, she was finally allowed to cross and made her way to Warsaw to fly back to Nigeria.

Asya, a medical student from Somalia studying in Kyiv, had a similar account. When she finally reached Poland, she said she was told “accommodation at the hotel was only for Ukrainians”. -BBC

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