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Why it’s more difficult to flee Ukraine if you’re not from Ukraine

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Vox, March 2022

An estimated 1 million people have already fled Russia’s war on Ukraine, and many European Union nations are welcoming Ukrainians with open arms. But non-Ukrainian citizens face an uncertain immediate future: Some have had difficulty trying to flee, and those who’ve managed to cross the border may not be able to find refuge in the European Union, at least for the long term.

That has put foreigners who adopted Ukraine as their home in a difficult situation, one aggravated by longstanding political and social factors, including the continuing embrace of Cold War policy, the inherent limits of the European Union’s will to welcome non-Europeans, and pervasive (though not necessarily overt) racism.

The EU and United Nations have been adamant that anyone who wants to leave Ukraine should be allowed to do so. But on the ground, a number of non-Ukrainians of color, including AfricansAfghans, and Yemenis, have reported facing discrimination while waiting in line at the border and while trying to access critical resources. While official statistics on the number of non-Ukrainian refugees facing such issues haven’t yet been compiled, the sheer volume of troubling reports has led to rebukes from United Nations diplomats and refugee officials.

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