In wake of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the NAACP is calling for swift and proactive actions to ensure fair and humane treatment of refugees, with special attention to nondiscrimination.
“The inhumane treatment of African refugees is a sobering reminder of a reality that Black people across the world are constantly reminded of–in the eyes of many, our safety and well-being is of less importance because of the color of our skin,” said Derrick Johnson, president and CEO of the NAACP.
“All refugees fleeing crises deserve to be treated with the same dignity and respect, regardless of their country of origin or what they look like. The NAACP will continue to exercise every tool at its disposal to combat racism and cruelty wherever it is happening.”
Since Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24, some 2.5 million people have fled the war-torn country. Millions more have been driven from their homes. However, disturbing reports have recently surfaced of discriminatory behavior by Ukrainian police of Black families, immigrants from the African diaspora and other people of color who reside in Ukraine.
Allegations include the denial of transportation access to pregnant African women, children, and students; white and nonwhite people being separated by barricades at the border; and videos showing officers beating people of color with sticks, tearing off clothing, and slapping those attempting to board trains.
In a March 9 letter addressed to the president of the European Union’s Diplomatic Mission, the NAACP wrote, “We write today with an urgent concern regarding reports that Black families, immigrants from the African diaspora, and other people of color who reside in Ukraine have been treated in a discriminatory manner as they flee the escalating war in Ukraine. Press reports and online videos reflect the use of racial hierarchy, violence, and state action taken against refugees of color as they attempt to flee Ukraine and enter bordering states of the European Union.”
The letter continues, “We understand the difficulty and fluidity of monitoring border agents across sovereign states. We urge swift and proactive action to ensure the fair and humane treatment of all refugees with special attention to nondiscrimination.”
The letter was co-signed by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law; the National Action Network; the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc.; the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation/Black Women’s Roundtable; the National Council of Negro Women, Inc.; and the National Urban League.
Founded in 1909 in response to the ongoing violence against Black people around the country, the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) is the largest and most pre-eminent civil rights organization in the nation.
Its mission is “to secure the political, educational, social, and economic equality of rights in order to eliminate race-based discrimination and ensure the health and well-being of all persons.”