African Students Lead Their Own Evacuation Efforts Out Of Ukraine


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A handful of African students are leading the charge on making sure Black people seek safe refuge amid a vicious Russian invasion in Ukraine.

NBC News highlighted 31-year-old Tolulope Osho and the group called Black Women for Black Lives, who are helping African, Caribbean, and other people of color evacuate the embattled country as Russian President Vladimir Putin sends his forces to subjugate Ukraine. Reuters says there are over 16,000 African students in the country, a popular choice for study.

However, as the world tunes into the horror happening in the nation, plenty of people are criticizing the media coverage and treatment of Black and brown refugees during the war. Some have even reported racism as they tried to enter border towns and other countries.

Korrine Sky, one of the three women leading Black Women for Black Lives, says she's experienced this firsthand during her journey to safety. Sky, her husband, and two others faced pushback and were even forced into a separate line for hours while trying to enter Romania. Their trip was already marred by traffic, overly-priced taxi trips, and multiple stops by Ukrainian officials to check their documents.

“It clicked at that point that it was segregation. I realized there was a nonwhite queue and a white queue,” Sky, 26, told reporters. “The language is, ‘It’s because you’re not Ukrainian.’ But that basically means, ‘It’s because you’re not white.'"

The second-year medical student from Zimbabwe shared her journey on Twitter along with resources and documents to help her fellow Africans. Soon, this caught the attention of Tokunbo Koiko and Patricia Daley, and they soon joined forces to help stranded Black immigrants. They claim they assisted at least 500 people with accommodations, access to safe borders, and refuge.

"We created a document (that) the students were able to refer to, to find where the borders were, which borders were safe,” Daley says. “It became a guide that included a list of accommodations, a list of drivers, contacts for when students were crossing over. We found very quickly that once the students had gotten to the border and crossed over, there was no one there to support them. This guide gave them assistance with that.”

As for Osho, who's from Nigeria, he says he helped some 200 people find shelter, provide transportation, reach safe zones, and even gave them money through fundraisers. The student "relied heavily on Instagram" to find people across Ukraine needing help.

“I navigate people who don’t know how to get out of the war zone, then to the border. I even buy them train tickets and pay for transportation," he told NBC News. The student also revealed that he actually reached the Polish border the day after Russia launched its attack on Ukraine. Then, he turned around.

"I have friends," he said of his fellow Africans in Ukraine. “If by leaving my valuables, I can save more lives, then I’m doing it. Life is more important.”

You can read more about their harrowing story here.

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