African refugees fleeing Ukraine held in immigration detention centers

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Cape Town – More than four million people have now fled Ukraine for neighboring countries amid the Russian invasion. However, fleeing black and brown students have been detained by EU border authorities in what has been condemned as ‘clearly discriminatory’ and ‘unacceptable’, reports democracy now.

Although all EU neighboring countries have pledged to accept refugees from Ukraine, as people flee across borders, a complicated story emerges of who is seen and received as good, bad and ideal refugees in modern Europe, reports Yvonne Su for The Africa Conversation.

A collaborative investigation, by The Independent, Lighthouse reports and other media partners, revealed that Ukrainian residents of African descent who crossed the border to escape the war have been placed in closed centers, some of which have been there for several weeks.

Maud Jullien, investigative writer at Lighthouse reports, explains how the European Union’s Temporary Protection Directive creates a double standard by allowing Ukrainian citizens to enter neighboring countries but prohibiting entry to third-country nationals. Jullien said four students who fled the Russian invasion are being held in a long-term detention center in Lesznowola, a village 40 km from the Polish capital Warsaw, with few means of communication with the outside world and no advice. legal. Polish border police have confirmed that 52 third-country nationals who fled Ukraine are currently being held in detention centers in Poland.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) said it is aware of three other facilities in Poland where non-Ukrainians who have fled the war are being held. This is despite an EU protection directive dated March 4, 2022 which states that third-country nationals studying or working in Ukraine should be admitted temporarily to the EU for humanitarian reasons. It clarifies that it also applies to “third-country nationals other than Ukraine, legally residing in Ukraine, who are unable to return in safe and durable conditions to their country or region of origin”.

Jeff Crisp, former head of policy, development and evaluation at UNHCR, said it was ‘clearly unsatisfactory and discriminatory’ for third-country nationals who fled Ukraine to be held in centers detention in EU states, “particularly because of the trauma they will have experienced in their efforts to leave Ukraine and find safety elsewhere”. He added: “They must be released immediately and treated on an equal footing with all the others who were forced to leave Ukraine”, reports The Independent.

In March, some African countries stepped up efforts to evacuate their nationals from Ukraine amid reports of mistreatment and racial profiling of Africans in war-torn Ukraine. The African Union has urged governments to respect international law and help all those fleeing war in Ukraine after African students raised concerns about discrimination at border points.

Deutsche Welle reported that some students are happy to be reunited with their families, but many remain stranded inside Ukraine and at border points with neighboring Poland. Other Africans have chosen to stay in Ukraine, especially those without residence permits.

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