The African Union (AU) has described reports that citizens of the continent are being stopped from crossing the Ukrainian border as “shockingly racist” treatment.
Thousands of people have been attempting to flee from Ukraine to neighbouring countries for safety since Russian forces invaded the country last Thursday.
However, there have been reports that non-white people, particularly blacks, are being turned away at the border by Ukrainian soldiers and Polish border guards.
Reacting to the development in a statement on Monday, Macky Sall, chairman of the AU, and Moussa Mahamat, chairperson of the AU Commission, said all people irrespective of their racial identity, have rights to flee to safety in times of war.
The AU asked all countries to “respect international law” by showing empathy to all people fleeing the war.
“The current Chair of the African Union and President of the Republic of Senegal, H.E. Macky Sall, and the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, H.E. Moussa Faki Mahamat, are following closely the developments in Ukraine and are particularly disturbed by reports that African citizens on the Ukrainian side of the border are being refused the right to cross the border to safety,” the statement reads.
“The two Chairpersons recall that all 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.
“Reports that Africans are singled out for unacceptable dissimilar treatment would be shockingly racist and in breach of international law. 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.
“The Chairpersons commend the efforts by African Union Member State countries and their embassies in neighbouring countries to receive and orientate African citizens and their families trying to cross the border from Ukraine to safety.”