African Union slams ‘racism’ in the wake of Ukraine war

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African Union Commission Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat. PHOTO | AFP

African Union on Monday condemned incidents of racial discrimination against Africans trying to flee the conflict in Ukraine, after Russia invaded the eastern European country.

Senegalese President Macky Sall, the Chairman of the African Union, and the African Union Commission Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat said they were “particularly disturbed” with reports that some African residents in Ukraine have been turned away at borders.

“Reports that Africans are singled out for unacceptable dissimilar treatment would be shockingly racist and in breach international law,” the two leaders said in a joint statement on Monday.

“In this regard, the Chairpersons urge all countries to respect international law and show the same empathy and support to all people fleeing war notwithstanding their racial identity.”

Since Russia invaded Ukraine last week, which Russian President Vladimir Putin described as “a special military intervention”, many foreigners residing in Ukraine, including Africans, have been trying to leave the country, to escape the violence.

But reports emerged early on Friday that neighbouring countries such as Poland were demanding visas from foreigners, preventing them from crossing into the country.

It forced a number of African countries such as Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda, Ghana and Rwanda to announce that they are in talks with various EU countries to grant temporary permits to their citizens to help them escape the war.

On Monday, the matter came up during a meeting on Ukraine at the UN Security Council, with the African members of the Council, commonly known as A3, denouncing what they termed “the mistreatment of African people, especially students, trying to flee Ukraine.”

The Council’s African members asked for equitable treatment and dignity for all victims of war without discrimination based on nationality or race. The A3 currently includes Kenya, Ghana and Gabon.

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