Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari is calling on Poland to let in all people who are trying to flee the Russian invasion of Ukraine, saying they "have the same right to safe passage under U.N. convention, and the color of their passport or their skin should make no difference."
Several African, Asian, and Caribbean citizens leaving Ukraine have reported facing discrimination by security officials and other people attempting to cross the border and being denied entry to Poland, The Guardian reports. Many are students who were studying in Ukraine. An estimated half a million people have fled Ukraine since the Russian invasion began last week.
Buhari said there is video evidence and firsthand reports of "Ukrainian police and security personnel refusing to allow Nigerians to board buses and trains heading towards Ukraine-Poland border. One group of Nigerian students having been repeatedly refused entry into Poland have concluded they have no choice but to travel again across Ukraine and attempt to exit the country via the border with Hungary."
The Guardian spoke with a 24-year-old medical student from Kenya named Emily, who said she had to wait several extra hours to enter Poland because Ukrainian nationals were prioritized. She was able to board a bus to a hotel near Warsaw offering free lodging, but was denied a room and told they are "meant only for Ukrainians." She offered to pay for a room, Emily told The Guardian, but was again told no. Her family contacted an acquaintance in Poland and they found accommodations for Emily, who only has permission to stay in Poland for 15 days.
Abike Dabiri-Erewa, Nigeria's special adviser to the president on diaspora affairs, said on Monday that Geoffrey Onyeama, the Nigerian minister of foreign affairs, has spoken with the Ukrainian ambassador to Nigeria to let him know "our people who want to leave must be allowed to." Read more at The Guardian.