Ukraine was supposed to be their Eldorado, but everyday life for Congolese is a huge struggle: intimidation, insults and assaults are a daily occurence for the black African students doing their university studies in Europe.
On the night of July 2, a fight broke out between Congolese students (from Congo-Brazzaville and Congo-Kinshasa) and Ukrainians in Ternopil, a town in the west of the country. This incident was captured on camera and published on Facebook by students from Congo-Brazzaville.
According to an eyewitness, the Congolese were celebrating their graduation at a nightclub in the city centre. Around 4 a.m., someone in the group was insulted and set upon by a group of Ukranians. But the arrival of the ambulance fanned the flames because the paramedics refused to give the Congolese student, who was bleeding from the lip, any medical attention. The video starts at this point.
Ukraine had many African students when it was part of the USSR. Bilateral agreements between African countries and Ukrainian universities were signed just before Ukraine gained its independence to create new ways of promoting Communist ideology.
According to the International Organisation for Migration in Ukraine, 60,500 foreign students are currently in the country and about 10,000 are black Africans. Between 2007 and 2012, the IOM registered 204 racist attacks, mainly against Asians and Africans. Sixteen people in total were killed.
The Institution for Development in East Europe, an NGO based in Kiev, says that there are even incidents in which the African migrants are swindled: many are targeted
by fake agencies who offer language training or accommodation. According to the NGO, racist attacks are common in Ukraine. In January 2012, a newspaper in Ternopil published a photo montage
comparing “blacks and Arabs” to monkeys.
If you are an African student in Ukraine, do not hesitate to post an account of your daily life below this article, or send your account to firstname.lastname@example.org.