September 27, 2022
Jemeal Jabateh, left, a 28-year previous scholar from Liberia who fled Kyiv, mentioned he couldn’t

Jemeal Jabateh, left, a 28-year previous scholar from Liberia who fled Kyiv, mentioned he couldn’t perceive ‘the violence’ of Ukrainian border guards.Anna Liminowicz/The Globe and Mail

Gifty Naana Mensah has been learning drugs at a college in Ternopil, in western Ukraine, for 5 years. She had by no means skilled any racism till she tried to flee the Russian invasion.

Ms. Mensah, who’s from Ghana, managed to get from Ternopil to the Polish-Ukrainian border on Friday solely to find that Africans had been being pressured to attend whereas Ukrainians crossed first. She spent practically two days in line, with little water and nothing to eat.

“To be sincere, there was loads of racism,” Ms. Mensah, 23, mentioned Sunday shortly after arriving in Przemysl, a small metropolis in jap Poland that’s near the border. “As a result of the Ukrainians at all times got here first, though we Africans can be there for days and typically three days with no meals. Everybody was simply exhausted. Any time Ukrainians got here, they advised us to return. They had been shouting at us, ‘return.’ It was actually loopy.”

She is among the many greater than 150,000 individuals who have crossed into Poland because the Russian assault started final week. The nation is bracing for as much as a million refugees from Ukraine because the disaster unfolds. To this point, most people arriving, together with Africans, have moved on to different elements of the European Union. However help companies warn that future waves of asylum seekers might haven’t any possibility however to stay in Przemysl after making the torturous journey to the frontier.

Gifty Naana Mensah, a 23-year previous scholar from Ghana, arrives in Przemysl from Ukraine the place she was learning drugs. She says in 5 years in Ukraine she by no means skilled the form of racism she confronted from Ukrainian officers on the border.Anna Liminowicz/The Globe and Mail

Ms. Mensah spent eight hours strolling to the border. She grew to become so dizzy whereas ready {that a} guard lastly let her into the immigration management space. However even then she was advised she couldn’t cross till 1000’s of Ukrainian ladies had gone by means of.

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At one level, she mentioned, a border guard strangled a person who grew to become unruly in a line of foreigners, and in one other occasion a person was hit repeatedly for attempting to cross a barrier. “I used to be shocked. I used to be actually shocked,” she mentioned. “They usually didn’t care. You inform them, ‘please, what you’re doing is unfair’ they usually inform you ‘return.’

She had no issues on the Polish aspect of the border, the place officers supplied her meals and water. “And I actually appreciated that, as a result of it saved my life. I used to be actually weak,” she mentioned.

Whereas it’s not clear how many individuals pouring into Poland are from Africa or different elements of the world, tens of 1000’s of Africans are learning at Ukrainian universities, which lots of them see as rather more inexpensive than different overseas universities. There are greater than 16,000 college students in Ukraine from Nigeria, Morocco and Egypt alone, in keeping with Ukrainian statistics.

A bus load of round 20 Ukrainian refugees from Africa, Bangladesh and India sit on a bus within the Polish metropolis Przemysl headed for Warsaw.Anna Liminowicz/The Globe and Mail

Because the starting of Russia’s assault, movies displaying Africans being pushed again from trains and border crossings have gone viral on social media, inflicting an uproar and sparking statements of concern by African politicians and officers.

One video confirmed a number of armed Ukrainian cops at a prepare station linking arms to forestall a bunch of Africans from reaching a prepare. One other confirmed a bunch of Africans close to the Ukraine-Poland border being blocked by a number of Ukrainian border guards, who pointed weapons at them. Different movies confirmed Africans stranded at a Ukrainian prepare station.

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“South African college students and different Africans have been badly handled on the Ukraine-Poland border,” mentioned Clayson Monyela, a senior South African diplomat, in a tweet on Sunday. He described this as “racism.”

The South African ambassador in Warsaw has travelled to the Ukrainian border to assist South Africans who’re attempting to enter Poland, Mr. Monyela mentioned.

John Okwuwa and his daughter Judy, who’re from Nigeria, arrive in Przemysl, Poland, after crossing the border from Ukraine on Feb. 27.Anna Liminowicz/The Globe and Mail

Nigeria’s International Affairs Minister, Geoffrey Onyeama, mentioned he spoke on Sunday to the Ukrainian International Minister, Dmytro Kuleba, and requested him to research the allegations of discrimination. “I expressed concern on the information of Ukrainian border guards hindering the exit of Nigerian residents,” Mr. Onyeama mentioned on Twitter.

In a while Sunday, he mentioned the Ukrainian minister had investigated and knowledgeable him that there have been no restrictions on overseas residents leaving Ukraine, and that Ukrainian border guards had been instructed to permit all foreigners to go away.

If some African college students have confronted issues, it’s “the results of chaos on the borders and checkpoints resulting in them,” Mr. Onyeama mentioned, quoting his Ukrainian counterpart.

On Sunday, many refugees arriving in Przemysl from Ukraine spoke concerning the harassment that they had skilled by the hands of Ukrainian authorities.

Police board a bus of foreigners who lately arrived in Poland from Ukraine and get them organized to remain calm, although one says in Polish that in the event that they don’t behave, “You’ll include me”. Feb 27, 2022, Przemysl, Poland.Anna Liminowicz/The Globe and Mail

Pranab das Gupta, a businessman from Bangladesh who fled Lviv, mentioned that as he and different foreigners approached the Polish border they had been pulled apart and advised to purchase tickets for a bus. Then, after only a few minutes on the bus, they had been ordered off the automobile and instructed to stroll to the border management space.

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As soon as there, they lined up in a separate part with 1000’s of different foreigners, whereas border officers let Ukrainians cross by means of. Mr. das Gupta mentioned that after three days of ready he lastly dropped his baggage and jumped over a fence to get into the immigration space.

“There was no bathroom and no meals or water,” he mentioned in Przemysl, as he sat on a unique bus, this one sure for Warsaw, with a bunch of 20 males from Africa, Bangladesh and India. “There have been some close by retailers however they had been promoting water or no matter just for Ukraine folks. If you’re a foreigner they mentioned, ‘Sorry I can’t promote to you.’”

Additionally on the bus in Przemysl was Jemeal Jabateh, a 28-year-old scholar from Liberia who spent days discovering a means out of Kyiv. He mentioned an African girl who was in entrance of him on the border collapsed. When he known as for assist, nobody responded till he lastly managed to get the eye of a border official.

Jemeal Jabateh (second from left), a 28-year previous scholar from Liberia who fled Kyiv.Anna Liminowicz/The Globe and Mail

“I used to be damaged down,” he mentioned. “I really like Ukraine. My buddies in Ukraine are so type to me and all my buddies are white. However I dislike the violence of the police. They’re offended and the anger is on us. It’s loopy. It’s laborious.”

Sitting in entrance of him on the bus, Mohamed Diallo, 28, a scholar from Guinea who additionally left Kyiv, nodded in settlement. He too confronted a prolonged wait on the border whereas Ukrainians headed throughout. “I used to be offended,” he mentioned. “What they had been doing was not proper.”

Despite the fact that Polish officers had been extra welcoming than their Ukrainian counterparts to the foreigners on the border, the reception in Przemysl wasn’t totally hospitable. It wasn’t clear why solely males from non-European international locations had been on the bus to Warsaw, they usually had no thought the place within the metropolis they had been being taken.

A bus load of round 20 Ukrainian refugees from Africa, Bangladesh and India sit on a bus within the Polish metropolis Przemysl headed for Warsaw.Anna Liminowicz/The Globe and Mail

Simply earlier than the bus left, three Polish cops got here on board. One spoke gruffly in Polish whereas a civilian official translated into English. “Hear guys and preserve calm, okay,” the official mentioned in English. “You perceive? If you’re not quiet, it’s an issue for driver. Okay?” However after he completed talking, one of many policemen berated him in Polish for not translating all the things he’d mentioned, together with that, if there have been any issues, “you’ll include me.”

John Okwuwa, a Nigerian, was simply blissful to be out of Ukraine. He had some sympathy for Ukrainian officers, though he additionally confronted a protracted wait.

“To be honest they must take care of their residents,” he mentioned shortly after arriving on Sunday in Przemysl together with his daughter, Judy. “I don’t maintain it towards them. I’m simply glad I’m right here.”

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