The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

Foreign Students Less Equal Than Others

Mar 14, 2022

In Ukraine, 76,500 young people from other continents are students.

These North African, Congolese, Ivorian, Gabonese and Ghanaian students have until now been hosted in Ukrainian universities, specializing in science, technology and computer science.

Fleeing the bombardments like thousands of others, many of them had to face, in addition to the dramatic situation, the contempt and even violence of the authorities who supervised the passage of refugees leaving Ukraine. On both sides of the border, young African men and women were mistreated because they were black. Many testimonies of arbitrary treatment have been reported at the Medyka border post in southeastern Poland. "We can’t get water or food, we’re on our own," testified a young Ivorian, a computer science student. Others recounted the violent attitude, the beatings, coming from Ukrainian and Polish police officers, trying in particular to prevent them from getting on the buses or trains taking the refugees. Some had to walk several tens of kilometers, dragging their luggage, for lack of being allowed on a bus.

While many of them denounced the lack of help from the authorities of their country of origin, they frequently met with the solidarity of Ukrainians fleeing alongside them. "Volunteers posted on the road to the border offered water, food, Pampers, blankets" to all the fugitives. In the same way, some tell of having been welcomed by inhabitants on the other side of the border for one or more nights, before their return to their families in Africa is possible.

It was only on March 3 that a European directive dating from 2001 was activated to grant temporary protection in the EU to refugees fleeing the war in Ukraine. The application of the measure to refugees who do not have Ukrainian nationality has moreover remained in abeyance, the Polish and Austrian authorities being opposed to it.

It is therefore a form of apartheid that some of the refugees had to undergo, because of their skin color.