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Hoosiers weigh in on reports of discrimination at Ukraine’s borders

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — While war rages in Ukraine, thousands scramble to leave as the fighting inches closer to where they live. But, reports are growing that escape doesn’t look quite the same for everyone.

A growing number of reports from Africans in Ukraine say Ukrainians are being given priority to board buses and trains first.

The African Union Commission, part of the United Nations, released a statement saying that international law requires everyone the same rights to cross out of the country safely and called reports of discrimination “disturbing.”

Laurent Bujambi lives in Indianapolis. He says he is concerned by reports that Africans — many of them, students — are having trouble leaving the country.

“Nobody plans for a war or becoming a refugee; it’s not something you plan for,” Bujambi said.

Originally from the Republic of Congo, Bujambi says he’s knows what it’s like trying to escape war.

“I think it is very unfortunate, what’s happening in Ukraine,” Bujambi said. “As someone who has actually lived through war, somebody who has actually had to flee the country, somebody who had to leave everything behind because of war, I really know exactly what they’re going through.”

Mariame Sow and Feven Araya are presidents of the African Student Association at Indiana University. They, like Bujambi, are following the reports of discrimination coming out of Ukraine.

“It’s not far-fetched, it’s not a thing of the past. Systemic racism and just the devaluation of black bodies…it’s just something that we continuously have to fight,” Sow said.

Sow and Araya spend much of their time spearheading discussions and leading events to shine a light on issues impacting Africans in American and in their home countries.

“In situations like this, time is of the essence. Especially when mothers, single mothers, and their children are struggling at the border of Poland and Ukraine,” Araya said.

As of Tuesday evening, Ukrainian border authorities are denying reports of discrimination.

Global leaders say they will continue to monitor the situation.