Amid Ukraine Exodus, Reports Emerge of Bias Against Africans

Aktual Indonesia - African workers and students seeking to flee Ukraine in the face of Russia's invasion are complaining of being blocked from buses, trains and border crossing points while priority is given to Ukrainian citizens.

A VOA reporter in western Ukraine says that priority is being given to Ukrainians but that he has not seen evidence Africans are being treated differently from other foreigners.

Nevertheless, some Africans — among the hundreds of thousands of people desperately trying to leave Ukraine — are alleging racial discrimination, prompting denials from Ukrainian authorities and concern from the United States and international bodies.

Augustine Akoi Kollie, a Liberian national studying medicine in the western Ukraine's city of Ternopil, said he witnessed the disparities while waiting overnight Saturday to cross the border near Suceava, Romania.

People stood shivering in long lines, clutching luggage and children, and "if a Ukrainian comes, you have to shift and make way for the Ukrainians to go to the front," Kollie told VOA. Although authorities called for women and children to be processed first, African women were left behind, he said.

"It was racial discrimination," he said, "because if you say you are taking women and children, you have foreign students there who are females. So why are you not taking them?"

Kollie also saw aggressive behavior, which one of his traveling companions captured on video while they waited at the border. The video clip, shared with VOA, shows a nighttime scene of several uniformed men shoving what Kollie called "foreign students," who were sitting on the ground and barely visible behind a parked vehicle. The men fired several shots into the air.

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