Africans in Ukraine Stranded At the Intersection of War and Racism

Arah Iloabugichukwu
9 min readMar 4, 2022

How Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine Proves Racism is A War All Its Own

On the heels of the Russian invasion of Ukraine and worldwide calls for aid for its citizens come emerging accounts of discrimination, racism, and prejudice faced by people of color, particularly residents of African descent. Currently, thousands of Africans remain trapped inside Ukrainian borders, many of them students attending local Ukrainian universities to pursue medical, engineering, business, and other technical degrees at affordable prices. Many say that they have been prevented from crossing the Ukrainian-Poland border due to authorities prioritizing “Ukrainian people” who just so happen to all be white. And it isn’t just Ukrainian soldiers following orders that appear to be rooted in racism; reports indicate that some civilians have launched racial attacks as well; creating human chains to prevent Africans from boarding trains, robbing and assaulting Africans stuck waiting at the border, forcing African women with children to exit departing trains, and stranding them in below-freezing temperatures for days.

In a statement released by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, the Ukrainian government requested the assistance of relevant Ukrainian agencies in assisting foreign citizens wishing to return to their countries or wanting to cross borders into other countries due to the invasion. In this same statement, they dismissed allegations of racial discrimination against foreign students as “Russian disinformation.”

“There is no discrimination based on the race or nationality, including when it comes to the crossing of the state border by foreign citizens. The first-come, first-served approach applied to all nationalities. There is also a standard procedure of documentation applied, with certain humanitarian exceptions allowed for women and children.”

However, video evidence, in addition to countless firsthand accounts of racial abuse and discrimination, calls the validity of these claims into question. Claire Moor, a Black student…

Arah Iloabugichukwu

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