Nigerian students being addressed at the Hungarian border by the country's ambassador to Hungary, Dr Modupe Enitan Irele/Photo: Private

Ukraine: EU Parliamentary group slams racist treatment of Africans

“We note with horror that because of the colour of their skin, some European countries bordering the Ukraine refuse Africans entry into their countries,” ARDI, the European Parliament Anti-Racism and Diversity Intergroup, said in a letter to Dr Ursula von der Leyen, President of the EU Commission.

ARDI was reacting to widespread reports from Africans attempting to flee the war that they were being turned back, either by Ukrainian or Polish border guards.

“Such an attitude shocks the human conscience at a time when the whole world is standing in solidarity with Ukraine, to learn that Ukrainians refuse African students access to public transport and that these young persons do not have the possibility to leave Ukraine and join the country of their choice,” the group said in the letter dated 2 March.

Dr Pierrette Herzberger-Fofana is a German Green MEP and co-president of the Anti-Racism and Diversity Intergroup./Photo: Courtesy of Pierrette Herzberger-Fofana

ARDI mentioned a protest by a group of Nigerian students at the border between Ukraine and Poland on Sunday after being detained by law enforcement officers under threat at gunpoint.

“If this is an official measure of the Polish authorities, we do not approve of it and do not understand that a country of the European Union acts against human rights and our values,” the European Parliamentarians added.

“We ask you, as President of the European Commission, to firmly call on European countries bordering Ukraine to respect the laws on asylum and to welcome the Africans who wish to flee from the war-torn Ukraine or at least to let them pass to the European country of their choice. It is clear that situation
requires host countries to take into consideration their own interests, but the humanitarian issue should take precedence,” the ARDI said

Meanwhile, authorities in Brussels called on border guards on both sides of the Ukraine-EU frontier to ensure everyone is allowed into the EU, regardless of nationality or ethnicity, according to the London Guardian newspaper.

A senior EU official was reported to have rejected the “unfair” suggestion that Brussels was turning a blind eye to these reports, noting that the EU commissioner for home affairs, Ylva Johansson, was in Poland on Wednesday to assess the situation.

“What is very, very clearly the position of this commission and the position of the European Union … is that absolutely everyone regardless of nationality, of race, religion should be allowed into the European Union. They are fleeing war from Ukraine. We will be a safe haven,” the EU official was quoted to have said.

Femi Awoniyi

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