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EU denies blocking Africans fleeing Ukraine conflict

EUROPEAN Union member states bordering Ukraine have granted unrestricted passage to Africans fleeing the conflict in Ukraine, the Delegation of the EU to Kenya has said.

It noted in a statement that once ‘the Russian aggression on Ukraine’ started on February 24, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary and Romania ‘immediately recognised the serious humanitarian urgency and have granted unrestricted access to Ukrainians and other nationals escaping Ukraine, including Kenyans’.

The statement added: ‘The usual entry requirements have been waived.

‘No visa, no vaccination, and even no passport is needed for entry.

‘Other EU member states are preparing to host millions of refugees leaving Ukraine due to the Russian invasion.’

At the outset of the conflict there were reports of Africans in Ukraine – which is not a member of the EU – being prevented from leaving the country.

But it turned out that the Ukrainian authorities were giving priority to women and children to board trains taking them out of the country.

Most of the Africans in Ukraine are students.

‘Contrary to some media reports, those Kenyans who have arrived at the borders have been assisted and allowed to enter safely into EU member states: Poland, Slovakia, Hungary and Romania,’ the EU statement said.

It added: ‘The four EU member states reacted immediately to the crisis, lifting or limiting restrictions to enter their territories.

‘Between 24 and 28 February over 350,000 persons crossed the Polish-Ukrainian border, among them 7,721 Africans, including 88 Kenyans.

Slovakia immediately lifted restrictions, the EU said, while over a four-day period ‘more than 4,150 people from 40 African countries were able to flee from the invasion into Slovakia’. The statement said that Romania and Hungary had also ‘exempted third party nationals from visa requirements for transit purposes, and those nevertheless seeking visas could obtain them at the border points [and] Romania has supported a large number of students…’

‘The EU regrets the incorrect and skewed media reporting on this issue that has repeatedly appeared in various Kenyan outlets and social media, and calls for careful verification of the facts.

‘Given that in some cases deliberate disinformation is being spread, the EU embassies present in Kenya are ready to provide accurate data,’ the statement added.


Desmond Davies

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