Hamburg, March 9, 2022
Call for solidarity and equal treatment of all refugees of the Ukraine war
The war in Ukraine has forced millions of people to flee war-torn areas, and many more are currently either unable to escape the hostilities or are still on the run.
Unfortunately, people of African Descent have experienced racial discrimination, horrific treatment, and violence at the EU’s external and internal borders, and exclusion from public transportation as they have fled. In particular, people of African descent were excluded from intra-Ukrainian train and bus travel and were forced to trek for days with children and in freezing temperatures. Families and circles of friends were sometimes separated or torn apart. At Ukrainian borders, Blacks were prevented from leaving the country for days at a time and were left to fend for themselves without shelter from the cold and wet. Once again Black people face a double-sided sword of war and racism.
Due to this unbearable situation for people of African Descent in war-torn Ukraine, our Black Community Coalition for Justice & Self-Defense joined the rescue action #EvacuateAfricansFromUA, initiated by Asmaras – World e.V. and the Association of Mandate Bearers of African Descent [VMA] e.V., in collaboration with The African Network of Germany [TANG] e.V..
Within the framework of this rescue operation, we participated logistically and organizationally in the rescue operation by traveling with the bus convoys to the Polish-Ukrainian border and bringing back refugees. In the last three weeks, we have self-organized accommodation, medical consultations, legal advice, crisis intervention, psychological counselling and for African refugees, as well as care for Ukraine war refugees of other origins.
Since the European states offered immediate, unconditional assistance to war refugees from Ukraine right from the beginning only to people with Ukrainian citizenship and people with permanent residence permits in Ukraine, all other war refugees like students or temporary residence permit holders were unequivocally signalled by the border authorities of neighboring states that they were not welcome, would not receive official assistance, and must leave the EU-Schengen area as soon as possible.
The Black Community Coalition for Justice & Self-Defence condemns the unequal treatment of vulnerable people who have all been equally affected by the war in Ukraine and we demand that unconditional and equal protection be distributed regardless of nationality or residence status at the time of the start of the war on February 24, 2022.
Dividing war refugees into groups of those worthy of protection and those groups not worthy of protection is a painful double standard that is neither acceptable nor consistent with universal human rights. The affected and marginalized people have found themselves in this war situation through no fault of their own, and they were all driven out of what they thought was a safe home in Ukraine where they had legalized residency conditions.
The consensual and immediate offer of protection for war refugees with Ukrainian citizenship must be followed by comparable offers of protection for ALL other victims of this European war if the much-invoked European values and principles of humanity and equal treatment are to be taken seriously, especially when war and hardship make it particularly necessary.
Against this backdrop, we take note of the transitional regulation issued by the German government on March 7, 2022, according to which Ukrainian war refugees from third countries are to be temporarily exempted from the requirement of a residence permit until May 23, 2022, although the arbitrary setting of a deadline without reference to the end of the Ukrainian war seems neither appropriate nor comprehensible. What happens after May 23, 2022?
We point out that a temporary exemption is no guarantee for a residence permit – after the deadline expires, there is a risk that registered persons will be obliged to leave the country again or will be forcibly deported. This is not acceptable. It is a shame if the German authorities fail to challenge the violence of migration policy and choose to use citizenship as a racializing weapon.
We draw particular attention to the plight of pregnant women and also children. Children and their families, regardless of their nationality and especially when fleeing war, should be given priority and equal treatment and urgently receive humanitarian assistance, protection and child-friendly housing and education.
– Residence permits for ALL people affected and displaced by the war in Ukraine
– immediate right to stay for pregnant women, children and families
– immediate and unconditional access to medical and psychological care
– possibilities to receive BAföG or scholarships for ALL students affected by the Ukraine war
– issuance of work and student permits to complete or continue studies
as to enable all people affected by this extraordinary war situation to live a largely self-determined life in Germany.
Students among the non-Ukrainian nationals who had to flee from the war already had to bear and traumatic experiences and financial burdens for their respective studies in Ukraine. We demand the exploration of all possibilities to avoid financial double burdens for normative study access here in Germany and to create regulations for the transitional continuation of their courses of study interrupted by war as well as for the acquisition of the necessary language skills.
The registration of African students and nationals of third countries other than Ukraine who were legally in Ukraine at the time of the outbreak of war should be carried out without forcing them to apply for asylum.
We would like to appeal to all people of African origin and the Afro-diasporic communities national associations, churches, mosques, etc. to join the demands formulated here to the federal and state politicians and to organise together. Refugee work for the most neglected groups needs all of our commitment and networking so that the available resources can be optimally used and coordinated.
We thank Hamburg’s civil society, anti-racist organisations, labour unions, student organisations for the extraordinary solidarity and concrete willingness to help, especially those people who have been racially marginalised alongside the unspeakable traumas of war.
The German government has a responsibility to ensure that ALL refugees not only have safety but also equal access to rebuild their life and heal in dignity. Majority of „Africans Fleeing Ukraine“ can barely survive in Hamburg without self-organised civil society solidarity measures.
The refugee crisis in Ukraine is not only an important opportunity for Germany and Europe to demonstrate its humanitarian values and commitment to the global refugee protection regime, but also a critical moment of reflection. It is a question of political and humanitarian decision-making at the federal and state level as to how the effective and equal protection of all Ukrainian war refugees can be concretely designed and implemented.
This is not the time for legal restrictions and false demarcations. We call for a wholesome ethic of care and responsibility.
Grant full protection to ALL refugees fleeing the war in Ukraine.
Action must be taken NOW!
Touch One -Touch All!
Individuals and organizations who would like to support this appeal, please let us know by mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Black Community Coalition for Justice & Self-Defense
Black Community Hamburg
ARRiVATi – Community Care for BPoC
AKONDA – Eine Welt Café Hamburg
Alafia Afrika Festival Hamburg
African Community Organizers
ASUIHA – African Survival in Hamburg
ARCA – Afrikanisches Bildungszentrum Hamburg
Black Media Group
Tschoobé For Freedom
Park Fiction Komitee