Gifty Naana Mensah has been studying medicine at a university in Ternopil, in western Ukraine, for five years. She had never experienced any racism until she tried to escape the Russian invasion.
Ms. Mensah, who is from Ghana, managed to get from Ternopil to the Polish-Ukrainian border on Friday only to discover that Africans were being forced to wait while Ukrainians crossed first. She spent nearly two days in line, with little water and nothing to eat.
“To be honest, there was a lot of racism,” Ms. Mensah, 23, said Sunday shortly after arriving in Przemysl, a small city in eastern Poland that is close to the border. “Because the Ukrainians always came first, even though we Africans would be there for days and sometimes three days with no food. Everyone was just exhausted. Any time Ukrainians came, they told us to go back. They were shouting at us, ‘go back.’ It was really crazy.”
She is among the more than 150,000 people who have crossed into Poland since the Russian attack began last week. The country is bracing for up to one million refugees from Ukraine as the crisis unfolds. So far, most of the people arriving, including Africans, have moved on to other parts of the European Union. But aid agencies warn that future waves of asylum seekers may have no option but to remain in Przemysl after making the torturous journey to the frontier.