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A Nigerian student cries after police refused to let him board a train to Poland, after being turned away for six days, at Lviv-Holovnyi railway station in Lviv, Ukraine on February 28. (Ethan Swope/Bloomberg/Getty Images)

As the Russian invasion of Ukraine continues, foreign students trying to leave the country say they face racist treatment from Ukrainian security forces and border authorities.

Rachel Onyegbule, a first-year Nigerian medical student in Lviv, told CNN that she and other foreigners were ordered off the public transport bus at a checkpoint between Ukraine and Turkey. Polish border. They were told to stand apart as the bus drove off with only Ukrainian nationals on board, she said.

She found herself stranded in the border town of Shehyni, about 400 miles from the Ukrainian capital, Kiev.

“More than 10 buses arrived and we were watching everyone leave. We thought that after taking all the Ukrainians they would take us, but they told us that we had to walk, that there were no more buses and told us to walk,” she said. . “My body was numb from the cold and we haven’t slept for about four days now. The Ukrainians took precedence over the Africans – men and women – at all times. We don’t need to ask why. to go home.”

Onyegbule said she finally had her discharge document stamped on Monday morning around 4:30 a.m. local time.

Allegations of violence

Saakshi Ijantkar, a fourth-year Indian medical student, also shared her ordeal with CNN on Monday via a phone call from Lviv in western Ukraine.

“There are three checkpoints we have to go through to get to the border. A lot of people are stuck there. They don’t allow Indians to pass,” she said.

CNN was unable to confirm the identities or affiliations of the people operating the checkpoints, but Ijantkar said they were all wearing uniforms.

“They only allow 30 Indians after 500 Ukrainians enter. To get to this border, you have to walk 4-5 kilometers from the first checkpoint to the second. Ukrainians are given taxis and buses to travel, all other nationalities have to walk in. They were very racist towards Indians and other nationalities,” the 22-year-old from Mumbai told CNN.

She added that she had witnessed violence by guards towards students waiting on the Ukrainian side of the Shehyni-Medyka border.

“I saw an Egyptian man standing in front with his hands on the rails, and because of that, a guard pushed him so hard and the man hit the fence, which is covered in spikes, and he got passed out,” she said. . “We took him outside to give him CPR. They didn’t care and they beat the students, they didn’t care about us, only the Ukrainians.”

CNN contacted the Ukrainian military in light of the abuse allegations, but did not immediately respond.

Ukraine attracts many foreign students to study medicine because it has a strong reputation for medical courses and tuition fees – and other expenses are much lower than programs in other Western countries.

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