The African Union (AU) has condemned the decision by some European countries to deny Africans caught in the conflict in Ukraine, the right to cross to neighbouring countries for safety.
President Macky Sall of Senegal, the current AU Chair and the AU Commission chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat, said they are following up closely on the situation of Africans who are reportedly stuck by the Ukrainian border and that they “are particularly disturbed by reports that African citizens on the Ukrainian side of the border are being refused the right to cross the border to safety.”
In the statement, the two leaders called on European countries to permit cross-border evacuations of all people, including Africans who are fleeing for their safety amidst fighting between Russian and Ukrainian forces.
“The two Chairpersons recall that all people have the right to cross international borders during conflict, and as such, should enjoy the same rights to cross to safety from the conflict in Ukraine, notwithstanding their nationality or racial identity,”
“Reports that Africans are singled out for unacceptable dissimilar treatment would be shockingly racist and in breach international law. In this regard, The Chairpersons urge all countries to respect international law and show the same empathy and support to all people fleeing war notwithstanding their racial identity,” President Sall and the AUC chairperson said.
“The Chairpersons commend the efforts by African Union Member State countries and their embassies in neighbouring countries to receive and orientate African citizens and their families trying to cross the border from Ukraine to safety.” they added.
The call followed several reports that Africans, mainly immigrants, were being denied the right to cross to countries like Poland for their own safety, while other nationalities were safely evacuated. The affected include mainly students who were pursuing their studies in different universities in Ukraine.
According to the Deputy Government Spokesperson, Alain Mukurarinda, there are at least 34 Rwandan students stuck in areas with intense fighting, out of the 85 who are known to study in Ukraine. Mukurarinda said in an interview with BBC on Monday that the Government of Rwanda is doing all it can to safely evacuate the students to safety.
He revealed that 18 of the students have already safely arrived in Poland with 6 more are by the border with Poland as they wait to be allowed in, while 27 are on the way as well, as the government works around the clock to repatriate them back home. Poland has give all foreigners 15 days to have left the country.