Ukraine is home to several foreign students, and a significantly large number of young medical students from South Asia and African countries. All who flee a conflict situation have the same right to safe passage under the UN Convention, and the color of their passport or their skin should make no difference.
However, during the evacuation to Poland, there have been news reports of discrimination against Indian and African nationals. There are allegations of use of violence to push foreign nationals to back of the lines, at borders, prioritizing native Ukrainians. Brown and black individuals, are also allegedly asked to get off from buses and asked to walk on foot instead which is an ordeal during the cold. Several refugees are also burning their own luggage to keep warm in the Ukrainian cold.
Officials from Ukraine and Poland have denied any official policy of discrimination, and have assured that all people will be evacuated regardless of skin color or nationality. However, several news reports are coming up, which show that the ground-reality might be very different.
“I saw an Egyptian man standing at the front with his hands on the rails, and because of that one guard pushed him with so much force and the man hit the fence, which is covered in spikes, and he lost consciousness,” she said. “We took him outside to give him CPR. They just didn’t care and they were beating the students, they didn’t give two hoots about us, only the Ukrainians,” she added.
… border staff told him they were “not tending to Africans”. “We’ve been chased back, we’ve been hit with police armed with sticks,” he told the BBC.
Ukrainians are given taxis and buses to travel, all other nationalities have to walk. They were very racist to Indians and other nationalities
This hits a personal note from me, because I am Indian, and have visited Poland, Hungary and Slovakia as a tourist. I have encountered love and hospitality as an Indian, and had a great experience. However, at this very time, several Indian people like me, are stranded in a war-zone and unable to get into these places.
Entering the same countries which I did as a tourist – is a matter of life and death for them. Many such students studied in the same places I did, and if life had taken a different course, I could have been in their place now.
I hope the war is over and Ukrainian citizens get back their normal life, and I also hope non-white foreigners in Ukraine, who have been treated with cruelty and racial prejudice have their voices heard, and Ukrainians show compassion towards them.
We, as travelers, should keep in mind those, who HAVE to travel, not for tourism, but as refugees, not to take photos or have experiences, but because their life depends on it.
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