Ukraine ambassador suggests segregating ‘foreigners’ on heels of racism reports

Vadym Prystaiko appears to believe more racism is the solution to alleged racism faced by Black people fleeing his war-torn nation.

Ukraine might “put all foreigners in some other place” following claims that Black people face discrimination when trying to flee the war-torn country, according to a report in the British newspaper, The Independent.

Ukraine’s ambassador to the United Kingdom, Vadym Prystaiko, made the stunning remarks to members of Britain’s Home Affairs Select Committee.

Vadym Prystaiko, Ukraine’s ambassador to the United Kingdom, appears to believe that the solution to racist behavior against Africans fleeing Ukraine rests with even more racism. (Photo: Jamie Lorriman, WPA Pool/Getty Images)

Prystaiko said he’s aware of the reports of racist behavior against Black people — and he seemed to indicate that the solution rests with even more racist behavior.

“Maybe we will put all foreigners in some other place so they won’t be visible and there won’t be conflict with Ukrainians trying to flee in the same direction,” The Independent quoted him as saying. “This is something that has to be taken care of and we will be doing it.”

He noted that Ukraine is a homogenous society, maintaining that while foreigners “stick out in a crowd,” it doesn’t mean his country is racist. But, he also admitted, “Problems arise when young foreigners are prioritized over women and children of Ukrainian citizenship who are trying to get on the same trains.”

The remarks come as the world rallies around Ukraine, which has been under fierce attack by Russia for the last two weeks.

Still, Africans there say they are facing racism that is inhibiting their ability to flee to safety. 

Nigerian medical student Jessica Orakpo and her friend, Zambian economics student Nataizya Nanyangwe, told The Washington Post they couldn’t get on a bus headed to the Polish border because they’re African. Orakpo said the woman organizing the line for the bus said it was only for Ukrainians.

“It was very devastating,” she said of the experience.

The United Nations, in a news conference, acknowledged that people are receiving different treatment.

“Our observations, and we possibly cannot observe every single post yet, but our observations is that these are not state policies, but there are instances which it has happened,” said Filippo Grandi, the U.N. high commissioner for refugees.

“There should be absolutely no discrimination between Ukrainians and non-Ukrainians, Europeans and non-Europeans,” he said. “Everyone is fleeing from the same risks.”

The U.N. says more than 2.1 million people have fled Ukraine so far, with most heading into Poland.

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