Statement | On the equal treatment of people fleeing the war in Ukraine
We, representatives of CSOs fully acknowledging that Ukraine is going through a disaster caused by the Russian military invasion, would like to attract attention to the situation with third-country nationalities residing in Ukraine.
Ukraine is not a homogenous country and has many nationalities and people of different citizenships living in it. According to the 2021 IOM migration report on Ukraine, there were 293,600 foreigners with permanent residence, more than 150 000 with temporary residence. Foreign students of Ukrainian higher education institutions come from 155 countries, they are mainly citizens of India (23.6%), Morocco (11.5%), Turkmenistan (7%). However, there are also people who are not requiring registration as Belarus citizens staying up to six months. An overwhelming majority of Belarusian citizens residing in Ukraine came there in 2020-2021 after mass repressions in Belarus. In most cases, these people went through administrative detainment and/or lost jobs for political reasons in Belarus; many also risk to face criminal prosecution in their home country.
All these people have equal rights in seeking safety. “Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum” is enshrined in the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948 and supported by the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and the 1967 Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees.
We are receiving multiple signals that third-countries nationalities are facing discrimination treatment in their attempts to flee from Ukrainian territory, including not allowing them to take places in evacuation transport (trains, buses), not letting them leave the country by the Ukrainian border guards. Also, there are reports that in some countries of reception the third-countries citizens are receiving less support.
Solidarity should not be selective – citizens of Ukraine and migrants living in Ukraine are equally at risk in the face of war. We ask border guards and decision-makers in other countries, as well as anyone who provides or intends to provide assistance, housing to those who arrive, not to distinguish people by country of origin or skin color – everyone needs help on this day.