Northwest Missourian Opinion

Millions of people have been displaced by the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, but there’s an overlooked group that is being affected by the conflict’s side effects — the African students who have been studying abroad there. These students are thousands of miles from home with nowhere safe to go. They’re stranded and terrified, constantly wondering if their next moment will be their last. 

To make matters worse, many of these students are also experiencing race-based discrimination by some of the Ukrainian military, citizens and border patrol officers from bordering countries. Issues concerning race have even led to the students’ restriction of traveling back to their home countries. One student said security guards forcibly removed him and all of the Black students from a train traveling from Lviv to Poland. 

Being in a warzone is terrifying enough; add to that being actively discriminated against and prevented from getting somewhere safe while also being hung out to dry by your home countries, and it adds a whole other layer of trauma these students will have to carry with them for the rest of their lives. 

Any form of discrimination is despicable, especially when human lives are already in danger. The Ukrainian government and other governments involved have to make sure this changes. These students need to be just as much of a priority as Ukrainian citizens, and swift action needs to be taken to make sure they are able to get somewhere safe.

It’s sad but not surprising in the slightest. People in power have overlooked the struggles of people of color for what seems like forever. But we can’t allow it to happen again. None of these students should be unfairly treated simply because of the color of their skin. Their lives are at stake constantly. The last thing they should be dealing with on top of that is ignorance and mistreatment from others. 

They are also being affected just as much as Ukrainians are, yet the majority of those in power in Ukraine are doing nothing to help these students and are allowing them to be discriminated against with no repercussions.  

Governments should be willing and able to help those in need. If Ukraine cannot protect those displaced by the war, the responsibility should be picked up by the nation’s allies. Use your voice to call on those in power who are capable of helping, and let these students know that we will not stop fighting for them until the Ukrainian government and its allies get them home.

 

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