African envoys spoke out strongly at the mistreatment of African nationals trying to flee Ukraine during a special session of the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday.
African nationals, mostly students, have accused Ukrainian security forces of racially profiling them, and of stopping them from getting on trains.
The reports of discrimination have caused uproar and left a bitter taste in Africa.
“South Africa endorses the statement issued by the African Union Commission expressing concern at the treatment given to African nationals and people of African descent at the borders of Ukraine, some of whom are not allowed to cross and move to safety.”
“We urge European countries to take steps to resolve this situation as all people have the right to cross international borders during times of conflict,” said Mathu Joyini, South Africa’s Ambassador to the UN in her speech.
Over social media, several African students said they had been bypassed to allow Ukrainians and other European nationals to cross the border into Poland first.
They said they were made to spend hours and days in freezing temperatures without food or sanitation facilities.
“We echo here the outcry of African students who are fleeing the war in Ukraine and are facing discrimination in their exodus in search of shelter.”
“This situation is unacceptable. We say no to racism and demand respect for human dignity while calling for the fair treatment of all people in distress,” said Baudelaire Ndong Ella, the Gabonese Ambassador to the UN.
African countries have been scrambling to evacuate their citizens from Ukraine. On Tuesday, the first group of Ghanaian evacuees arrived home in Accra.
The government said more will be put on commercial flights in the coming days.