Black women continue to fight on the front lines to save those in need. With the recent conflict between Russia and Ukraine, there has been documented evidence of the racist treatment of African students who are trying to flee after the invasion. The videos circulating the internet show the Ukrainian locals preventing Africans from boarding trains and crossing the borders to leave the embattled country while letting non-Blacks pass.
With so much outrage over the clips, two Black women decided to do something about it. Just like many of us, British friends Patricia Daley, 29, and Tokunbo Koiki, 40, saw what was going on online, but they particularly connected with one woman’s story.
Twenty-six-year-old student Korrine Sky documented her arduous journey to flee the Ukrainian city of Dnipro where she shared videos of several attempts being made to prevent her from reaching safety in Romania.
We have reached the actual border experiencing some threats of violence from some local Ukrainians who don’t believe we should enter. This man keeps circling our car pic.twitter.com/kWw5DjkcL0— Koko 🇺🇦 (@korrinesky) February 28, 2022
Once she was safe, however, Patricia and Tokunbo contacted Korrine and they began working together to help other students who were stuck in the eastern European country. In an interview with Sky News, the trio revealed that so far they have raised over £500,000 ($60,000) and helped more than 500 African students flee the country after many of them experienced the same racist treatment that Korrine shared on Twitter.
"People said they were pushed, sent back, and physically assaulted on both sides of the border in Ukraine, Romania, and Poland," said Tokunbo, who is a social worker. The ladies noted that the students were terrified as they shared their harrowing experiences.
"I do think they have been treated differently at borders because of their skin. Racism is now happening even in situations where there is war,” Patricia said.
Black Africans are being treated with racism and contempt in Ukraine & Poland. West cannot ask African nations to stand in solidarity with them if they cannot display basic respect for us even in a time of war. Ignored in a pandemic and left to die in war?!! UNACCEPTABLE.— Dr. Ayoade Alakija (@yodifiji) February 25, 2022
A total of one million people have reportedly fled Ukraine and according to BBC, Africans make up 10,000 of that number. While many of them such as Korrine found safety in Romania, others have entered neighboring countries like Poland, Hungary, and Slovakia. But there are many that are still trapped in the country in cities that have now fallen under Russian control.
BBC interviewed several students including one who said that ‘the university ignored our pleas and concerns for over one month,’ before chaos broke out and instead told students that they would be fined if they missed classes.
While Patricia, Tokunbo, and Korrine have teamed up to offer support, African countries such as Nigeria, South Africa, and Ghana have also responded by making flights available for students to return to their home countries.
Featured image by Craig Stennett/Getty Images