The Ukraine government has acknowledged the racist abuse that Black people have been subjected to while trying to flee from Russian attacks in their country.
Scores of African and Asian refugees in Ukraine have told of being blocked at border points as they attempt to make crossings to safety.
Speaking to The Independent on Sunday, Osarumen, a father-of-three, said he, his family members and other refugees were told to disembark a bus about to cross the border on Saturay and told, “No Blacks”. Despite challenging the driver and military officers’ orders, they were ejected from the vehicle.
“In all of my years as an activist, I have never seen anything like this,” he said. “When I look into the eyes of those who are turning us away, I see bloodshot racism; they want to save themselves and they are losing their humanity in the process. I cannot imagine a scenario where white Ukranians would ever be denied asylum so how they’re treating us is unwarranted. It’s baseless. We are all escaping so let’s push a common thread.”
Dmytro Kuleba, the country’s foreign minister, addressed this scourge of discrimination in a statement posted to Twitter on Tuesday night.
“Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has affected Ukrainians and non-citizens in many devastating ways,” he said.
“Africans seeking evacuation are our friends and need to have equal opportunities to return to their home countries safely. Ukraine’s government spares no effort to solve the problem.”
No details were offered about measures that will be implemented to bring about an end the ongoing issue.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine escalated on Tuesday, after five people died in a Russian airstrike that damaged the Kyiv TV tower, Ukraine officials said.
As fighting intensified, Black and Asian refugees are still experiencing discriminatory treatment and some have fallen ill as a result of the extreme weather conditions while decrying lack of support, The Independent has been told.
Celebrities around the world have used their platforms to highlight the plight of Black people attempting to flee Ukraine from Formula One star Lewis Hamilton and Hollywood film director Ava DuVernay to civil rights pioneer Jesse Jackson.
The BeyGood charity, run by American entertainer Beyonce, tweeted on Monday: “We are saddened by the news of African and other international students being denied at the border as they attempt to leave Ukraine. We are hopeful that the various embassies could swiftly rectify the situation to help those in need of support.”
During a discussion on ITV panel show Loose Women on Tuesday, presenter Charlene White said: “You’ve got thousands of Black, Asian, Syrian, Arab students and workers who have also been trying to get out of Ukraine and have been prevented from doing so due to the incessant racism that they have experienced.”
After being subject to a backlash online, White tweeted: “For those throwing the phrase, ‘playing the race card’ at me today re @loosewomen... let me be VERY clear. You feeling uncomfortable hearing someone talking about race is not my concern, when the concern ought to be directed towards the victims who are subjected to it.”
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