African students trapped in Ukraine have complained of discrimination by “racist” Ukrainian and Polish soldiers and police officers as they try to escape the war.
The students say they are being blocked from getting off trains or barred from crossing borders to neighbouring countries.
Videos showing stranded African students being blocked from boarding trains towards the border have also surfaced on social media platforms.
Precious, a Nigerian woman who spoke to Irish Times said her boyfriend who is trapped in Ukraine said only white people were being allowed to board a train. She said:
My boyfriend is stuck in Ukraine and his phone is not reachable for the past two days. The last time we spoke he said he was waiting for the train from Lviv to Poland.
He said they didn’t allow them to board the train. Only white people [could] and his phone had low battery so he had to go offline.
It is estimated that 20 per cent of Ukraine’s foreign students are African, including 4 000 Nigerians.
One Nigerian medical student, who had been studying in Dnipro said the British students he studied with were bussed to the Polish border by university authorities, while Africans were left behind.
By Sunday he was driving in a four-car convoy towards Romania, where they heard they would be allowed to cross.
On Sunday afternoon, another Nigerian student in Poland told The Irish Times that many Nigerians who had been waiting had finally managed to cross the border that morning.
Meanwhile, African activists and students have been raising awareness of their plight through the Twitter hashtag #AfricansInUkraine.
They have also been creating group chats on WhatsApp and Telegram to organise assistance.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has described Ukrainian leaders as “terrorists” and “a gang of drug addicts and neo-Nazis.”