Since the beginning of the Russian invasion of Ukraine on 24 February, more than 600,000 Ukrainians and people of other nationalities resident in the country have entered Germany to seek refuge.
Among the refugees are Africans, most of whom are students.
Africans fleeing the war have been reportedly discriminated against while crossing the country’s borders into safety. 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 in Germany.
An African community forum was formed on 15 March to provide orientation and other forms of support to the Africans from Ukraine.
The forum, ‘Help for Africans from Ukraine in Germany’ (HAUG), regularly shares useful information relevant to Africans and others fleeing the war in Ukraine who are presently living in Germany through online advice and online information sessions.
Moreover, the group also offers other forms of support, including accompanying the Africans to official reception centres for their registration and helping them to find accommodation.
“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 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 about 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.
HAUG is currently implementing a programme to support Africans from Ukraine in Hamburg. The programme has become necessary because of the peculiar situation of African students who have been issued provisional resident permit for six months by the city with the expectation that they would be able learn German, gain admission into German institutions and meet other conditions to qualify for student visa at the expiry of the visa.
“They need support on how to find accommodation, look for work, learn German language, search for courses and institutions and seek admission,” Awoniyi said. “HAUG Hamburg specifically addresses these needs through virtual information sessions, online advisory services and physical events,” he added.
HAUG Hamburg has already held a virtual legal advice session on 31 May and will hold an information session on studying in Germany on 15 June, one of the series of activities planned until the end of August.
More information about HAUG at https://haug-initiative.com/