Foreign students trapped in Ukraine

Christine O'Mahony

On the 24 th of February, Russia began a full-scale invasion of Ukraine, which resulted
in millions of people fleeing the now war-torn country.
However, there have been reports that
foreign students, who travelled from Africa, The Middle East and The Caribbean to study in
Ukraine, have faced difficulty at the Ukrainian and Polish borders, as they attempted to travel
home. There have even been reports that these students have faced racism and have been told
to go to the end of the que, as security guards have been prioritising Ukrainian refugees.
Shocking reports have emerged that Indian students have been left stranded in Ukraine and
the alleged reason is because, India’s Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, supports Vladimir
Putin and Russia. There are approximately over 700 Indian students stranded in Sumy,
Ukraine. According to Reuters, Indian government ministers will be heading to Ukraine’s
borders to help evacuate stranded citizens and Modi has initiated ‘Operation Ganga’, which
will provide humanitarian assistance to Indian citizens who have crossed over to
neighbouring countries.
According to the Independent, a Jamaican student who was held ‘at gun point’
while stranded in Ukraine. Over 24 students who left by bus in L’viv in Ukraine, were
stopped by angry people for “overtaking”, as reported in the Jamaica Gleaner, and given a
choice, to go back to L’viv or to walk to Poland. These students chose to walk, the over 20-
kilometre journey to Poland. Two students have fell ill while walking to Poland, which has
caused outrage back in Jamaica. Jamaica’s Prime Minister, Andrew Holness, has said that the
government is ‘pursuing all efforts’ to evacuate all Jamaican students stranded in Ukraine.
African students have also faced major difficulties, most have had to stay in bunkers for over 20
hours. They have also faced racism, both at the Ukrainian and Polish border and have been
told to go to the back of the queu. Student Moustapha Bagui Sylla, from Guinea, told France
24, “the stopped us at the border and told us that Blacks were not allowed. But we could see
White people going through”.
Countries in the EU have publicly differentiated the difference between Ukrainian refugees
and other refugees from Africa, the Caribbean and the Middle East in their mind. With many
media commentators claiming that Ukrainian refugees are “just like us”, “they have Blonde
hair and blue eyes” and are “civilised”. Bulgarian Prime Minister, Kiril Petkov, stated “these
are not the refugees we are used to. These are people who are European, so we and all other
EU countries are ready to welcome them. These are intelligent people, educated people, some
of them are IT specialists and they are highly qualified”. Spain’s Vox President has said that
Ukrainian refugees are welcome but Muslim refugees are not.
It has been difficult for all refugees escaping Ukraine, but especially non-Ukrainian refugees
who are facing racism and hostility. Perhaps proving George Orwell to be correct that “all
animals are equal, but some are more equal than others”.

Christine O’Mahony

Image Credit:The New York Times