The International Organization for Migration has received credible and verified reports of discrimination experienced at Ukraine’s borders by foreign nationals attempting to flee violence amid Russia’s ongoing invasion, IOM Director-General Antonio Vitorino told CNN Friday.
“We have reports – credible reports, verified reports – and we are acting with the authorities on both sides,” Vitorino said.
“We have already approached the authorities both in Ukraine and the neighboring countries to make sure everybody who is fleeing the country, irrespective of their nationality, of their territory of origin, of the color of their skin, is allowed to cross,” he added.
Speaking during an interview with CNN’s Isa Soares, Vitorino stressed that all those seeking to flee the conflict “need to be treated on equal footing.”
“In spite of the war, there is a responsibility of the authorities to guarantee the safety and security of all human beings. The missiles do not discriminate according to nationality, they hit everybody equally,” he said.
In a report published Friday, Human Rights Watch said dozens of foreign nationals interviewed by the organization — many of them students — had “revealed a pattern of blocking or delaying foreigners from boarding buses and trains.”
“Foreigners living in Ukraine have faced unequal treatment and delays as they attempt to flee the war alongside hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians,” Human Rights Watch said.
Foreign students attempting to leave the country have told CNN that they are experiencing racist treatment by Ukrainian security forces and border officials.
On Wednesday, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba announced that the government has established an emergency hotline for foreign students wishing to leave Ukraine.
“We are working intensively to ensure their safety and speed up their passage,” Kuleba tweeted, adding that those attempting to cross the border “need to have equal opportunities to return to their home countries safely.”