Kenya student fleeing Ukraine says she faced segregation, racism at border, Poland

Kenya student fleeing Ukraine says she faced segregation, racism at border, Poland

A Kenyan medical student who fled the war-torn Ukraine has narrated her nerve-jarring ordeal while seeking refuge in Poland, which has opened her borders to thousands fleeing the Ukraine-Russian war. 

The 24-year-old said her ordeal began at the Ukrainian border, where she was forced to wait for hours because guards allowing refugees into Poland were prioritizing Ukrainian nationals. 

“We had to wait five hours but we were lucky: we met some people there who had spent days waiting in the foreign national queue,” she told British newspaper The Guardian on Monday.

When she was eventually allowed in, the student claims she boarded a free bus organized by an NGO and set out for a hotel on the outskirts of Warsaw that was giving free board to Ukrainian refugees. 

At the hotel, the student said she and her Kenyan friends were denied entry, even after offering to pay.

“The staff said, ‘Sorry, we can’t admit you because this was meant only for Ukrainians,’” she said. 

Her family in Kenya resolved to enlist the help of their Polish acquaintance, who found accommodation for her and other students with friends in Warsaw.

Her account comes amid numerous discrimination complaints from other African students who are trying to leave Ukraine.

A 22-year-old Nigerian student also told the British outlet that he drove from Kyiv, along with fellow students from Nigeria and South Africa, to the Polish border, where they were stopped by some men in the queues upon noticing that they were Africans

“They immediately saw that the Ukrainians could pass but when they realized we weren’t Ukrainians they stopped it. They told us we couldn’t move forward and wouldn’t let us join the queue,” the student said.

The men reportedly attacked and vandalized their windscreen when they flouted their orders and they eventually decided to leave the car and walk, after paying them $100 (Ksh.11, 390).

Polish police have in the meantime warned of fake social media reports of violent crimes being committed by people fleeing Ukraine after Polish nationalists attacked Africans, South Asians and Middle Eastern people who had crossed the border.

According to police accounts, three Indians were beaten up by a group of five men, leaving one of them hospitalized

The police say that ​​the propagandists, whom they have linked to the far right group, are spreading false information about alleged crimes committed by people from Africa and the Middle East fleeing Ukraine.

Kenya’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Tuesday said a total of 79 Kenyans have been evacuated from Ukraine, and that all the registered Kenyans who were in Ukraine are safe.

The Kenyan government, the ministry said, had negotiated unrestricted entry for Kenyans into neighboring EU countries.

74 Kenyan students had crossed into Poland as of February 28, with four more in Romania and Hungary.

Those in Poland were in Warsaw, Krakovets, and Katowice, while one student has already returned to the country.

Four others had declined to be evacuated, citing personal reasons.


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