Racism at Ukrainian borders to the surface again
Once a racist, always a racist, even in the worst circumstances when you should just be human.
According to the United Nations, more than one million people have fled Ukraine following the Russian special military operation in the country.
It took Adesanya Adedoyin, a Nigerian student, 4 days to try to escape the ongoing situation while facing discriminatory practices.
“I was waiting, waiting, waiting and then we realized we had to leave,” said Adedoyin. “It was crazy. I felt discriminated [against], I felt neglected.”
Nigerians, Ghanaians, and other Africans, many of whom are students, have joined hundreds of thousands of people trying to escape Ukraine across borders into Poland and other nations.
At the Ukrainian border checkpoint, Adedoyin said that he and his Black classmates were pulled aside, where they waited many hours with no movement.
“There were a lot of queues and there were lots of us in it. After a little while we were moved to a different queue with all the Blacks to one side," he said.
While several countries opened their doors to refugees, some other countries like Bulgaria, noted that they are not to allow Ukrainians to access their borders. It is worth mentioning that Bulgaria's Prime Minister Kiril Petkov has previously said he wanted to keep Syrian and African refugees out, although he had previously rejected the marginalization of minorities, saying his country is open to helping Ukrainian refugees during this time because they are Europeans.
“There is not a single European country now which is afraid of the current wave of refugees,” Petkov said, taking back his anti-migration stances.
Bulgaria has for years rejected refugees, who are often Black, or Middle-Easterns, according to Oxfam. Petkov welcomed Ukrainians because they “are not the refugees we are used to … these people are European.” He did not stop there but even described Ukrainians as being more intelligent and educated than the usual migrants who try to enter his country.
“This is not the refugee wave we have been used to, people we were not sure about their identity, people with unclear pasts, who could have been even terrorists,” he added.
Adedoyin’s sister, Adesanya Idowu, guided him throughout the journey from her home in Toronto about where to go and helped fund his trip.
Adedoyin said that one evening, crowd control measures like pepper spray were used against them. The reason for such a measure was not known, but he noted that the big crowds were attempting to gain entry.
“I almost choked to death,” he said.
Another student tells how they are stuck and how safe passage is not guaranteed, as some students have returned after several failed attempts to leave Ukraine.
“There was one student who was sent back and they pointed a gun at him and told him to go back,” he said.
On Thursday, European interior ministers reached an agreement that permits any Ukrainian national and long-term Ukrainian resident to stay in the European Union for up to a year. However, the agreement excluded foreign students, who are short-term residents. While students will be accommodated, the agreement said they will be sent back to their home countries.
Ukraine has long met an influx of students and immigrants from around the world, as HRW reported that 2020 government data revealed that 80,000 international students were in the country, many of which came from India, Morocco, and Nigeria, and now, after spending years in Ukraine, the Kiev authorities are discriminating against them.
Ukraine itself has a neo-Nazi issue, which prompted Russia to launch a military operation with the intent of "denazifying" its western neighbor following sabotage attacks by Ukrainian armed forces and ultra-nationalist and neo-Nazi groups in Donbass.