BBC unearths racism against Ugandans fleeing Ukraine war

African students among those crossing into Poland from Ukraine. PHOTO | AFP

What you need to know:

  • The BBC Africa Eye team also experienced racism in Poland when they were turned away from two restaurants and also confronted by “men angrily demanding to see their BBC IDs.

When Russia started a full scale invasion of Ukraine in February, about five million refugees, including Ugandans, fled the war.

The BBC Africa Eye team visited the Ukraine-Poland border and met Ugandans and other Africans who were fleeing war, with many Africans saying they experienced discrimination.

In a report that is to be aired today, BBC Africa journalist Peter Okwoche, said Africans were stopped from crossing into Poland.

“I was so shocked at what I saw there. We’ve covered conflicts on the African continent where people have fled but I’ve never seen 1.5 million people flee in one week,” Mr Okwoche said.

In an interview with the Daily Monitor, Mr Okwoche said he saw the emptiness on their faces.

“A lot of them had lost expression on their faces. It was very traumatic for them and us as well,” he said.

Mr Okwoche interviewed Ms Becky Adong and her husband, both Ugandans, who had lived in Ukraine for more than10 years and have a musical band.

The couple had two children, who were born in Ukraine. The duo lived in a town that was bombed in the second week of the war.

“Eventually, they decided to flee to the capital, Kiev, and waited for the train. They had to wait for a day or so to get on the train all together,” Mr Okwoche said.

Ms Adong said: “My children, I feel so bad for them because this is their home, this is the only place they know. They’ve not even been to Uganda.”

Mr Okwoche said Adong and her family, like many other Africans, see Ukraine as their motherland and wish to return when peace is restored.

The BBC Africa Eye team also experienced racism in Poland when they were turned away from two restaurants and also confronted by “men angrily demanding to see their BBC IDs.

“Because of this experience, this very uncomfortable experience of somebody judging me for my skin colour, it made me understand what these people who had crossed from Ukraine were telling me and for them to say it was worse on the Ukrainian side, I just can’t imagine,” Mr Okwoche said in a BBC statement.

BBC Africa Eye, however, said not all African families experienced discrimination. “Nigerian football coach Obi Ojimadu and his family have lived in Kharkiv for the past 17 years and were lucky to escape to Hungary.  They were moved by the reception they got, as they crossed into Hungary,” the BBC statement reads in part.

Obi told BBC: “Irrespective of who you are, whether you are Ukrainian or you are not Ukrainian, as long as you are coming out from Ukraine as a refugee, everyone is being well taken care of here.”

BBC Africa Eye said the Ukrainian government has promised to spare no effort to solve the problem.

Welcome!

You're all set to enjoy unlimited Prime content.