The African Union (AU) says it is “disturbed” by reports that African nationals in Ukraine are been prevented from safely crossing the border to flee the raging conflict in the country.
In a statement late Monday, the pan-African body said: “[A]ll people have the right to cross international borders during conflict, and as such, should enjoy the same rights to cross to safety from the conflict in Ukraine, notwithstanding their nationality or racial identity.”
African nationals, mostly students, have accused Ukrainian security forces of stopping them from boarding trains headed to the border regions. Videos shared on social media also show Ukrainian border forces pushing African nationals as they attempt to cross into Ukraine.
“Reports that Africans are singled out for unacceptable dissimilar treatment would be shockingly racist and in breach international law,” the AU statement continued.
Al Jazeera spoke to several African and Asian nationals who said they were turned away by Ukrainian authorities at the border to Poland.
“We were the last people to get on anything, it was always like that.” Madi Kemel Dinga, a Congolese student, told Al Jazeera at a reception centre in Korczowa, eastern Poland.
“They will first put their people first. And then us. For me, it was discriminating but for them, it is normal,” Dinga added.