UN Admits Refugees Face Racism at Ukraine Borders (+Video)

UN Admits Refugees Face Racism at Ukraine Borders (+Video)

TEHRAN (Tasnim) – The United Nations admitted that some non-Europeans refugees have faced discrimination while trying to flee to safety at Ukraine borders as more reports are emerging of racial discrimination against Arab and African students trapped in Ukraine.

Filippo Grandi, the organisation’s High Commissioner for Refugees, acknowledged their plight during a press conference on Tuesday afternoon.

“You have seen reports in the media that there are different treatments – with Ukrainians and non-Ukrainians. Now our observations, and we possibly cannot observe every single post yet – but our observations is that these are not state policies – but there are instances which it has happened,” he said.

“There has been a different treatment (...). There should be absolutely no discrimination between Ukrainians and non-Ukrainians, Europeans and non-Europeans. Everyone is fleeing from the same risks.”

The UN plans to intervene to try to ensure that everybody receives equal treatment, Grandi added.

Prior to this, Christine Pirovolakis, Senior External Relations Officer at the UK branch of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), told The Independent: “UNHCR is aware of reports of individuals facing challenges entering Poland from Ukraine and is following up on them.

“We advocate for access to safety for all, regardless their legal status, nationality and race as well as access to asylum for those who want to seek asylum.”

This comes after a number of Black, south Asian and Mediterranean refugees shared accounts of being blocked at borders while trying to make crossings while white Ukrainians have been prioritized.

Black people living in the region told The Independent that they have been denied assistance during the worsening crisis with some taking to social media in recent days to share their experiences.

Organizations, government officials and public figures around the world have condemned the discriminatory treatment including the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, the African Union and American entertainer Beyoncé.

During a visit to Slovakia on Tuesday, the EU Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson said the European Union must prepare for “millions” more refugees fleeing Ukraine after around 500,000 have passed into the bloc.

This comes as Black people living in the region have said they have been denied assistance during the worsening crisis with some taking to social media in recent days to share their experiences. Videos shared on Twitter has shown African and Caribbean students and families being pushed away from boarding buses and trains heading out of Ukraine.



Foreign students, mainly Indians, Arabs and Africans, attempting to leave Ukraine have also said they are experiencing racist treatment by Ukrainian security forces and border officials. One African medical student said she and other foreigners were ordered off the public transit bus at a checkpoint between Ukraine and Poland border. They were told to stand aside as the bus drove off with only Ukrainian nationals on board, she said.

The treatment of many non-European refugees has received global condemnation from organizations, government officials, and public figures.

The African Union (AU) has said it is “disturbed” by reports that African nationals in Ukraine are being prevented from safely crossing the border to flee the raging conflict in the country. The pan-African body said in a statement that, “All people have the right to cross international borders during conflict, and as such, should enjoy the same rights to cross to safety from the conflict in Ukraine, notwithstanding their nationality or racial identity.”

“Reports that Africans are singled out for unacceptable dissimilar treatment would be shockingly racist and in breach international law,” the statement added.

The Nigerian government has also expressed concern over reports of discriminatory behavior by Ukrainian and Polish border guards against its nationals.

The number of people fleeing the Russian military campaign against Ukraine has surged to more than half a million, according to the United Nations.

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