Three Black women have raised more than £50,000 ($60,000) to help Black students flee Ukraine amid Russia’s invasion, News One reports.
Londoner Patricia Daley along with her friend Tokunbo Koiki saw a tweet of a Black student who was documenting her tumultuous situation of trying to escape Ukraine. The young woman identified as Korrine Sky was studying in the eastern city of Dnipro when the chaos began.
“Ukrainians didn’t have to cue with us, they were prioritized and taken to the front of border control,” her post read. “Our cue only had non-Ukrainians. Who stood where was decided by the military.”
Previous videos posted to her Twitter reveal locals circling the young student’s car, attempting to stop her and other people of color from passing the border. Another clip shows long lines as thousands of refugees and locals waited eagerly to cross over to the neighboring country.
As a response, Daley and Koiki contacted Sky and they coordinated a campaign to support the Black students that the Ukrainian authorities are preventing from safely crossing the border.
Because of their work, the woman told Sky News that they have now helped more than 500 Black students flee Ukraine by “funding transport costs, like arranging taxis and other emergency needs.”
Koiki, who is a social worker, recalled the troubling messages she received from Black students in Ukraine who were horrified by the discrimination that they’ve encountered. “People said they were pushed, sent back, and physically assaulted on both sides of the border in Ukraine, Romania, and Poland,” she said. “I do think they have been treated differently at borders because of their skin,” Daley added. “Racism is now happening even in situations where there is war.”
According to the reports, the Ukraine student contingent from Africa includes countries such as Morocco, Nigeria, and Egypt. It’s estimated that 16,000 African students are enrolled in universities all over the country.
Clement Akenboro, an economics student from Nigeria, told NPR that he was thrown off a train headed to Poland from Lviv by security officers.
“They drug all the Black guys from the train,” he said.
Filippo Grandi, the U.N. ‘s high commissioner for refugees, released a statement about the ongoing mistreatment.
“There should be absolutely no discrimination between Ukrainians and non-Ukrainians, Europeans and non-Europeans. Everybody is fleeing from the same risks,” Grandi told reporters, adding that the racist incidents “weren’t a product of state policies,” NBC News reports.