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Africans in Ukraine
Press Statement March 9, 2022

NAACP Calls on EU Mission to Ensure Humane Treatment of African Refugees

Africans in Ukraine

(WASHINGTON, D.C.,)- Earlier this week, the nation's preeminent civil rights organization sent a letter urging the President of the European Union's Diplomatic Mission to take swift and proactive actions in order to ensure the fair and humane treatment of all refugees, with special attention to nondiscrimination.

In the letter, the NAACP wrote, "We write today with an urgent concern regarding reports that Black families, immigrants from the African diaspora, and other people of color who reside in Ukraine have been treated in a discriminatory manner as they flee the escalating war in Ukraine. Press reports and online videos reflect the use of racial hierarchy, violence, and state action taken against refugees of color as they attempt to flee Ukraine and enter bordering states of the European  Union." 

The letter later continues, "As you are aware, the provision of humane treatment to refugees is embedded in sovereign law, international treaties, and customary law. Parliamentarians have a critical role to ensure the implementation of policy through actual practice. We understand the difficulty and fluidity of monitoring border agents across sovereign states. We urge swift and  proactive action to ensure the fair and humane treatment of all refugees with special attention to nondiscrimination."


Since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, 2022, more than 1.5 million people have fled the war-torn country. Reports have recently surfaced of discriminatory behavior by Ukranian police. Reports include: 


  • denying transportation access to pregnant African women, children and students; 
  • white and nonwhite people being separated by barricades at the border; and 
  • videos of officers beating people of color with sticks, tearing off clothing, and slapping those attempting to board trains. 


"The inhumane treatment of African refugees is a sobering reminder of a reality that Black people across the world are constantly reminded of - in the eyes of many, our safety and well-being is of less importance because of the color of our skin,"said Derrick Johnson, President and CEO, NAACP. "All refugees fleeing crises deserve to be treated with the same dignity and respect, regardless of their country of origin or what they look like. The NAACP will continue to exercise every tool at its disposal to combat racism and cruelty wherever it is happening." 


The following organizations co-signed the letter in solidarity with the NAACP:

  • Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law
  • National Action Network (NAN)
  • National Association for the Advancement of Colored People Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (NAACP LDF) 
  • National Coalition on Black Civic Participation / Black Women's Roundtable (NCBCP/BWR)
  • National Council of Negro Women, Inc. (NCNW)
  • National Urban League (NUL)


A copy of the full letter can be found here.



Founded in 1909 in response to the ongoing violence against Black people around the country, the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) is the largest and most pre-eminent civil rights organization in the nation. We have over 2,200 units and branches across the nation, along with well over 2M activists. Our mission is to secure the political, educational, social, and economic equality of rights in order to eliminate race-based discrimination and ensure the health and well-being of all persons.


NOTE: The Legal Defense Fund – also referred to as the NAACP-LDF was founded in 1940 as a part of the NAACP, but separated in 1957 to become a completely separate entity. It is recognized as the nation's first civil and human rights law organization and shares our commitment to equal rights.