Four EU countries neighbouring Ukraine have denied cases of discrimination against Kenyans and Africans fleeing the Russian invasion.
In a statement to the media through the European Delegation in Kenya, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary and Romania said contrary to media reports, Kenyans who have arrived at the borders have been assisted and allowed to enter safely into EU member states.
“The four EU member states reacted immediately to the crisis, lifting or limiting restrictions to enter their territories. Between February 24 and 28, over 350 000 persons crossed the Polish-Ukrainian border, among them 7 721 Africans, including 88 Kenyans,” the statement said in part.
It added that within the last four days, more than 4,150 people from 40 African countries were able to flee from the invasion into Slovakia.
“Likewise, Romania and Hungary have exempted third party nationals from visa requirements for transit purposes, and those nevertheless seeking visas could obtain them at the border points. Romania has supported a large number of students, including 3,000 Indian students, to pass through without restrictions,” the statement added.
The missions were reacting to cases of Africans being denied the right to cross borders to safety, drawing condemnation from the African Union and individual African states.
In a statement on February 28 AU chairman and Senegal President Macky Sall and Commission chairman Moussa Faki said all people have the right to cross international borders during conflict. The AU chiefs said everyone 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 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 statement said.
However, the EU said the four of member states have so far welcomed over half a million, mainly Ukrainian refugees over their borders and more are likely to follow.
“In response to the very large Ukrainian refugee flows into EU member states, European Commissioner Johansson has announced a European Solidarity Platform to coordinate support to those member states in need. The European Commission is also coordinating the reception places offered by other non-bordering member states,” the statement added.