The European Union has rejected claims of discriminating against foreigners, saying member states neighbouring troubled Ukraine have given unfettered welcome to all people fleeing the war.
A statement from the EU Delegation in Kenya on Wednesday said the countries neighbouring Ukraine such as Poland, Slovakia, Hungary and Romania immediately lifted immigration requirements for Ukrainians and other nationals, including Kenyans.
“The usual entry requirements have been waived. No visa, no vaccination, and even no passport is needed for entry. Other EU Member States are preparing to host millions of refugees leaving Ukraine due to the Russian invasion,” the statement said, indicating the countries have already taken in 7,721 Africans fleeing violence.
“Contrary to some media reports, those Kenyans who have arrived at the borders have been assisted and allowed to enter safely into EU Member States: Poland, Slovakia, Hungary and Romania.”
The statement came amid widespread complaints by Africans seeking to leave Ukraine, who complained of discrimination or being moved to the back of queues in favour of non-Africans.
The EU says 350,000 people crossed borders into the bloc after Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24.
“Within the last four days more than 4,150 people from 40 African countries were able to flee from the invasion into Slovakia. Likewise, Romania and Hungary have excempted third party nationals from visa requirements for transit purposes, and those nevertheless seeking visas could obtain them at the border points.”
The EU says incorrect reporting of discrimination has repeatedly appeared in various Kenyan media outlets and on social media. It called for careful verification of facts, saying EU Embassies present in Kenya are ready to provide accurate data.
Overall, the EU says it is hosting more than 500,000 refugees from different nationalities and it was responding to requests from African countries to provide temporary shelter and passage for their nationals.
Germany announced on Wednesday that it was applying “unbureacratic” processes to clear refugees to enter its territory, and termed incidents of racism as isolated cases and not a policy of the EU.
On Tuesday, Kenya said it had secured easier passage for stranded nationals in Ukraine, indicating partial reprieve for those struggling to exit the country.
A statement issued by the Kenyan Foreign Ministry said the country had negotiated for temporary permission for Kenyans to be allowed to leave Ukraine into any of its neighbouring EU members.
“The government negotiated for unrestricted entry of Kenyans into the neighbouring EU states, a request that was honoured by Poland, Slovakia, Hungary and Romania that Kenyans cross their borders via a simplified procedure.”
Kenya said it had evacuated 74 students from Ukraine, of the more than 200 of its nationals who had been living in the country.