As the ongoing war between Ukraine and Russia deepens, social media was flooded with videos showing apathy towards the African students by the Ukrainian nationals as they tried to flee the country. The Ukrainians were accused of racism after multiple clips of Africans being denied train boarding surfaced.
As per the education ministry, Morocco, Nigeria and Egypt are among the top 10 countries with foreign students in Ukraine, together supplying over 16,000 students.
Ukrainians Given Right of Passage First
Sharing their ordeal on social media, several African students are posting videos from train station and Ukrainian border using the hashtag #AfricansinUkraine.
A recent video shows a black girl being pushed off the train by a Ukrainian guard, who then lets a white girl board the train. "Ukraine police pushing a black young girl off the train. The white girl is allowed on though," read the captions in the video. The Ukrainian guard is also heard repeatedly shouting at the black people to 'go' as they attempt to board the train.
"They stopped us at the border and told us that Blacks were not allowed. But we could see White people going through," Moustapha Bagui Sylla, a student from Guinea told the outlet adding that he fled his university residence in Kharkiv soon after the bombing.
Another student posted a video that shows an Ukrainian guard holding a gun and purportedly threatening to shoot the students.
Nigerian Government Issues Statement
Michael, a Nigerian student, claimed that his group including women was denied passage at the border. "They won't let Africans in. Blacks without European passports cannot cross the border (...). They're pushing us back just because we're Black! We're all human. They should not discriminate against us because of the color of our skin," Michael told the outlet.
Following the multiple videos being uploaded on social media, the Nigerian government issued a statement expressing disappointment. Africa News reported that in the statement, the Nigerian government urged customs authorities in Ukraine and neighboring countries to treat its citizens "with dignity" amid growing accusations of racism at the Ukrainian border.
"There have been unfortunate reports (that) Ukrainian police and security personnel are refusing to let Nigerians board buses and trains. It is important that everyone is treated with dignity and without favor," said Nigerian presidential spokesperson Garba Shehu in the statement.
Speaking to the outlet, Nigeria's Foreign Minister Geofrey Onyeama said that he had spoken with his Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba who assured him that Ukrainian border guards had been given an order to allow all foreigners leaving Ukraine to pass without restrictions.