Indian and African Students Face Violence in Ukraine: Extremist Militias Target Non-Europeans - Reports

Amid ongoing hostilities in Ukraine, widespread reports have emerged of foreign students from non-Western ethnic backgrounds facing severe discrimination from Ukrainian authorities. CNN interviewed some of the victims of Indian and West African origin who were reportedly ordered off busses leaving Ukraine for Poland and told to walk in the sub freezing temperatures.

 Rachel Onyegbule, a Nigerian first-year medical student, recalled: "My body was numb from the cold and we haven't slept in about four days now. Ukrainians have been prioritised over Africans -- men and women -- at every point. There's no need for us to ask why. We know why. I just want to get home.” Saakshi Ijantkar, a fourth-year medical student from India, recalled as a consequence of authorities leaving students outside in severe weather: "I saw people shaking so terribly in the cold, they were collapsing because of hypothermia. Some have frostbite and blisters. We couldn't get any help and (were) just standing for hours.”

Ijantkar recalled violence and other “very cruel” treatment targeting Indian and other foreign students, with one African student she saw knocked unconscious by an unprovoked blow from authorities. "We took him outside to give him CPR. 

They just didn't care and they were beating the students, they didn't give two hoots about us.” After witnessing other foreigners beaten without provocation she complained: “There was no reason for them to beat us with this cruelty.” Other students interviewed by CNN similarly highlighted that guards were “very racist” and abuses were widespread.  

A number of sources have reported that white supremacist militias which have played a key role in the Ukrainian war effort have targeted foreigners particularly Indians living in the country, in particular preventing them from leaving and using them as human shields against Russian attacks. 

The Azov Battalion, which has strong Neo-Nazi ties and was controversially incorporated into the National Guard of Ukraine in 2014, is the best known among these militias. The Russian Defence Ministry has repeatedly claimed that these militias are deploying artillery assets from civilian areas and preventing populations from leaving. 

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