Some African Nationals Report Racism and Hostility Trying to Flee Ukraine

Thousands of African immigrants have joined the throngs of Ukrainians trying to flee the country. Several say they face red tape and discrimination

Refugees From Ukraine In Poland
Maciej Luczniewski/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Some African citizens living in Ukraine have reported racist discrimination and abuse at the border as they try to flee the country amid the Russian invasion, NBC News reports.

Alexander Somto Orah, 25, was among thousands of people crowding a Kyiv train station Friday, hoping he and his friends could get to safety at the Polish border. Orah said officials wouldn’t allow the group of Africans to board trains out of the region.

"I said: ‘You say Ukrainians only, but I don’t see you checking passports. I see you picking white people only,’" Orah told NBC News. "The train was not filled before they left, but they never picked us."

Videos on social media have shown officials appearing to threaten to shoot groups of African students, a woman shielding an infant from the cold, officials chasing groups of people and people reported to be stranded in Ukraine.

Ukraine's Foreign Affairs Ministry called on relevant agencies to support foreign citizens but appeared to dismiss the reports of discrimination as Russian propaganda. Dmytro Kuleba, Ukraine's minister of foreign affairs, tweeted Tuesday that Africans needed to evacuate the country safely.

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The United Nations says more than 600,000 Ukrainians have fled since Russia invaded the country. Most of them are going to neighboring and nearby European countries like Poland. NBCLX talked with NBC News' Jay Gray at a check-in station in Poland about 1 mile from the Ukrainian border.
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