WATCH | Pushed, shoved and ‘shot at’: South Africans fleeing Ukraine claim poor treatment at border

  • South African students stuck in Ukraine say they are being denied access at the Polish border.
  • In video footage from one student, Ukrainians are separated from Africans.
  • The Department of International Relations and Cooperation is concerned about reports students were allegedly shot at. 

South African students stuck in Ukraine are believed to have been poorly treated at the Polish border as efforts to get them home continue.

Video footage from a student depicts Ukrainians being separated from Africans. The student said South Africans were pushed, shoved and denied access to the border.

Students can also be seen waiting outside in the cold in big groups.  

Ukraine Crisis Evacuation Committee member Lorraine Blauw said the problem at the moment was at the border. 

“The Ukrainians have decided to set up international territory in the middle where they are separating Indians and Africans. They are letting people wait; we have Congolese people stuck for two days and had their passports taken away. This morning, students were beaten because they didn’t stand in the ‘black line’,” she added. 

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Blauw said the situation was “horrible at the moment”. 

“These soldiers have taken it upon themselves to let the Ukrainian woman and children go first and to let our people be stuck with no shelter, food or water.” 

The stranded students went abroad to pursue their studies in medicine at Ukrainian universities. They have now been caught in the middle of the conflict between Russia and Ukraine. 

READ | ‘This is war’: South Africans in Ukraine urged to flee to Poland as fighting intensifies

Department of International Relations and Cooperation spokesperson Clayson Monyela said the department was concerned about the current situation. 

“Our ambassadors are on the ground to assist in getting students to neighbouring countries; it’s not easy because Africans are not being prioritised.

“In fact, we have received reports that students have been shot at. We have to be on the ground to assist them in crossing. Our main priority is to get them to cross the border, especially in Poland, where that is the main issue,” he added. 

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