Birmingham pastor has labelled racist abuse in war-torn Ukraine as ‘heartbreaking.’
Several reports surfaced of the racial discrimination towards non-white Ukrainians and immigrants, following the recent Russian invasion.
Pastor Peter Sutcliffe of the Nechells Outreach Centre said racism was not just limited to the Eastern European nation.
“It is heartbreaking that we are still in an age where skin colour or language can cause discrimination against somebody,” said Sutcliffe.
“I do think that’s how people are, no matter where you go in the world: when you are put under pressure, you’ll see prejudices towards different groups.”
His church, among many in Birmingham, are involved in regularly praying for intervention and raising funds to send over in Ukraine.
He said: “We are in direct connection with churches in Ukraine and we get regular updates from the general presbyter, Clayton Endecott.”
The minister claimed the facts remain unclear, in terms of racial abuse, because his church has not received a direct response from any of their connections in the country.
He warned to be careful about social media reports.
“Internet clips can paint a spewed picture,” said the pastor.
Olesia Mykhailenko, a volunteer in Ukraine, has experienced the problems of social media use in the conflict firsthand.
She has been translating publicly available information, such as evacuation guides, into English, after many foreigners were left without any support from their embassy.
The informational support volunteer used the #AfricaninUkraine hashtag to find foreigners that were stuck in the country and needed help.
She said: “Africans in Ukraine is a useful hashtag as it helps people know that there is a problem. I followed it and so my friends and we decided to help in ways we can. But then it was used for Russian Propaganda. I have seen posts like Ukrainians don’t deserve support because they’re super racist.”
The humanitarian volunteer admits that there were some records of non-white refugees not being allowed to board trains.
However, there have also been stories of immigrants not obeying the country’s law of giving priority to women and children.
“My friend witnessed a foreign student who took out a knife and only let his foreigner friends on the train,” said Mykhailenko.
The lawyer believes that the current racial tension is due to the stress of being in a war.
She explained people are trying to follow their basic survival instincts but admitted border guards preventing Africans from fleeing were in error.
She said: “We are not proud of that, and we need to apologise to all the people that have experienced racial discrimination.”
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