Since the beginning of the Russian invasion of Ukraine on 24 February, about 4 million Ukrainians and people of other nationalities resident in the country have been seeking refuge in European countries, according to the UN refugee agency.
Among the refugees are Africans and Asians, many of whom are students, who are resident in Ukraine.
Non-Ukrainians fleeing the war have been reportedly discriminated against while crossing the country’s borders to safety. This discrimination has been condemned by the European Union, the International Organisation for Migration and many other groups.
Beyond their unsavoury experiences while escaping to safety, the practical issues of where to stay, how to access health care and what possibilities do exist for the continuation of their studies are some of the concerns of the African students.
An African community forum has now been formed to provide orientation support to Africans from Ukraine.
The forum, ‘Help for Africans from Ukraine in Germany’ (HAUG), emanated from an All-Nigerian Community meeting of 15 March 2022, convened by the Nigerians in Diaspora Organisation Germany e.V., at which measures to support Nigerians from Ukraine were discussed.
It was thereafter decided to extend the scope of the initiative to cover all Africans and indeed all those in need of support.
HAUG has set up a WhatsApp group to regularly share useful information relevant to Africans and others fleeing the war in Ukraine who are presently living in Germany. Moreover, the group also offers other forms of support such as welcoming Africans arriving from Ukraine at train stations and finding them accommodation.
HAUG members also take Africans from Ukraine to official reception centres for their proper registration.
“For most of those arriving, it’s like they are lost. So, their utmost need is to find their bearing” Femi Awoniyi, who is the President of NIDO Germany and Co-ordinator of HAUG, explained. “Hence the community has risen to the occasion to offer them orientation support to enable them settle down without much hardship.”
“HAUG has volunteers across Germany who are able to provide information from their areas to our people from Ukraine,” Awoniyi, who is also the publisher of The African Courier, further said.
HAUG circulates information through the existing networks of its members to reach prospective beneficiaries of the initiative, he added.
Among the participating organisations in HAUG are NIDO Germany e.V., Concerned Nigerians in Germany e.V., Nigerian Community Germany e.V., Pamoja Afrika Köln e.V., Hope Central e.V., Nigerian Community Bayern e.V. and the Nigerian Association Rhein-Neckar e.V.
More information about HAUG at https://haug-initiative.com/