Statement on the war in Ukraine and the treatment of Africans trying to flee the country
Like countless people all over the world, the members of the Africa Multiple Cluster of Excellence based at the University of Bayreuth (Germany) and African Cluster Centres at the University of Lagos (Nigeria), Joseph Ki-Zerbo University (Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso), Moi University (Eldoret, Kenya) and Rhodes University (Makhanda, South Africa), are greatly shocked about the Russian war on Ukraine and the Russian government's disregard for the rights of everyone in the Ukraine to live in peace and security. We declare our concern for all those affected by the virulent and reprehensible attacks by Russian forces on Ukrainian territory.
At the same time, we are deeply troubled by the flagrant racism towards Africans—predominantly students—anxious to flee danger to their lives during this turbulent period, which has been widely observed and reported in the news and social media from train stations in Ukrainian towns as well as from the Ukrainian-Polish border. The blatant racial profiling exercised through officials' refusals to allow Black people cross the border, forcing them to remain in areas of conflict, is abhorrent and not to be condoned.
We also note with dismay how several white-positioned government officials and media representatives have expressed their shock at the necessity of Ukrainian citizens to flee as refugees while simultaneously articulating racist comparisons to previous waves of Iraqi, Syrian, Afghani, and African refugees to Europe in the past years. The current display of racism vis-à-vis Africans trying to flee Ukraine sadly reconfirms the pattern of dehumanization of refugees of color that has become all too familiar in many refugee crises in Europe of the recent past.
Just as we stand in solidarity with all Ukrainians and Russians who never wanted this war, we declare our solidarity and concern for all Black people and people of color who became embroiled in this conflict. We join the African Union in urging “all countries to respect international law and show the same empathy and support to all people fleeing war notwithstanding their racial identity” (official AU statement issued on February 28, 2022). We further demand of the European Union as well of the respective national governments to call out the racist practices and to play their part in putting an end to the suffering caused, through creating the conditions necessary to preserve the dignity of Africans fleeing the country and to protect all human lives during this time of war.
Eldoret (Kenya), Lagos (Nigeria), Makhanda (South Africa), Ougadougou (Burkina Faso), and Bayreuth (Germany), March 4, 2022
The Directors of the African Cluster Centres
The Members of the Management Board, Africa Multiple Cluster of Excellence
Prof. Dr. Yacouba Banhoro, Joseph Ki-Zerbo University, Ouagadougou
Prof. Dr. Andrea Behrends, Vice Dean of Early Career & Equal Opportunity, University of Bayreuth
Prof. Dr. Olumuyiwa Falaiye, University of Lagos
Prof. Dr. Ute Fendler, Vice Dean of Internationalisation & Public Engagement, University of Bayreuth
Dr. Franz Kogelmann, Managing Director, University of Bayreuth
Prof. Dr. Enocent Msindo, Rhodes University, Makhanda
Prof. Dr. Sabelo Ndlovu-Gatsheni, Vice Dean of Research, University of Bayreuth
Prof. Dr. Cyrus Samimi, Vice Dean of Digital Solutions, University of Bayreuth
Prof. Dr. Rüdiger Seesemann, Dean, University of Bayreuth
Prof. Dr. Peter Simatei, Moi University, Eldoret
Dr. Christine Vogt-William, Director of the Gender & Diversity Office