Representatives from the three African nations on the UN Security Council – Kenya, Ghana, and Gabon – all condemned reports of discrimination against African citizens at the Ukrainian border during a meeting at the UN HQ in New York City Monday.
There have been widespread reports from African students fleeing the country that they faced segregation, racism and abuse.
“In the unfolding emergency, there have been disturbing reports about the racist treatment of Africans and people of African descent seeking to flee Ukraine to safety. The media is covering these appalling incidents and several states have confirmed that their citizens are suffering such treatment. We strongly condemn this racism and believe that it is damaging to the spirit of solidarity that is so urgently needed today.
“The mistreatment of African peoples on Europe’s borders needs to cease immediately, whether to the Africans fleeing Ukraine or to those crossing the Mediterranean,” Kenyan Ambassador to the UN Martin Kimani said Monday.
The African Union has said it is “disturbed” by the reports of segregation against Africans in Ukraine, which it described as “shockingly racist.”
“Reports that Africans are singled out for unacceptable dissimilar treatment would be shockingly racist and in breach international law,” a statement by the AU said Monday.
The 54 member bloc urged countries to “show the same empathy and support to all people fleeing war notwithstanding their racial identity.”
Kimani added that the Security Council needs “to be able to understand that there are actors who want to magnify this story for cynical reasons that have nothing to do with the wellbeing and safety of Africans.”
He also thanked Hungary, Poland, Romania, and Slovakia for allowing Kenyan citizens fleeing Ukraine visa-free entry into their countries.
Ghanaian Deputy Ambassador to the UN Carolyn Oppong-Ntiri echoed the sentiment in her remarks, calling for the facilitation of persons fleeing Ukraine “without discrimination” and to provide them with humanitarian assistance, “including medical care in line with the principles of humanity, neutrality, and impartiality.”
The UN Ambassador from Gabon called reports of racism “unacceptable.”
“We ask for the respect of the dignity and for equitable treatment of all people in dire circumstances. It is an opportunity for my country to recall the African Union appeal for respect of international law that requires equal treatment for all people who cross international borders in conflict areas,” Ambassador Michel Xavier Biang said Monday.
Foreign students attempting to flee Ukraine after Russia invaded the country, told CNN that they experienced racial discrimination at the Ukrainian border.
The fleeing students, comprising mainly Indian and African nationals, accused Ukrainian security forces and border officials of showing various forms of prejudice against foreign students.
Ukrainian border authorities have denied these allegations.
CNN’s Pooja Salhotra contributed to this report.