Demand for the immediate rescue of Black students stranded in war torn Sumy, Ukraine

Demand for the immediate rescue of Black students stranded in war torn Sumy, Ukraine

3 March 2022
Petition to
African and European government officials
This petition made change with 2,776 supporters!

Why this petition matters

We, the undersigned, call on all African and European government officials, specifically Dymtro Kuleba, all people in a position of power and all those with a platform to speak up, to believe, support and rescue the predominantly Black students stranded in Sumy, where bombs regularly rain down as a result of the Ukrainian-Russian war.

Once again, the world is showing us that Black lives do not matter. Even in the midst of a war, white Europeans, both civilian and military, have had time to discriminate against Black and Brown people, the majority of whom have been students.

Nowhere is this more pronounced than the city of Sumy which is currently under siege by Russian forces, despite still having over 500 predominantly Black students who have been condemned to stay there by the people meant to assure their safety.

On the 24th of February as Ukrainians fled the state, the students faced heavy discrimination when attempting to board the trains. These students believed once the Ukrainian nationals had all boarded the trains, they would be allowed to do so; however this never materialised.The last train was due to leave Sumy state shortly before midnight; for the Black and Brown students left at the station, this was their last and ONLY way out of Sumy. 

Shortly before the train was due, soldiers approached these students and began threatening them to leave the station. These students pleaded with the soldiers to allow them to evacuate the city, which by now had 3 civilian deaths and had erupted into an extensive shootout between the Ukrainian defenders and Russian soldiers. The soldiers raised their rifles in the air and began to shoot, causing all the students to flee back to their respective residence.

Since then, the situation has worsened for the students in Sumy and any attempts to leave is deemed a suicide mission. Their resources such as water and food have depleted from Russian soldiers looting the local shops. They have no outside access as the streets are filled with armed soldiers who have been instructed to ‘shoot on sight if they suspect someone.’

The Ukraine – Russia war is not different from current pre-existing wars around the globe, in that the war targets innocent young people. We have failed to learn from Syria, Iran, Iraq and Yemen, and we will fail again if we do not take robust action and evacuate innocent Black and Brown students stuck in Sumy State. Historic times require big decisions to change the flow of events and alleviate us from washing our hands with the blood of innocent people.

Similar to the aforementioned conflicts, this war has not been for defence or liberation purposes, but a war of aggression and conquest and these innocent students are caught in the middle of it all because of the colour of their skin. We can no longer be a part of the evil and unjust political error, racism and insincerities in which students and young people are being sacrificed.

These students have been patient, they’ve been polite, they’ve been outraged, they’ve been speaking out, they have been pleading. What more will it take for the international community to hear their cries for help? How many more students must be injured and killed before we respond? Why must their humanity be verified before they are believed, supported and rescued as a matter of urgency?

This is not the time for the humanity of Black lives to be transactional. When it’s time to put up a black square on our social media feeds to show our support of Black lives, we do it because it’s easy and makes us seem trendy and like we care. But when it’s time to actually speak up, denounce these atrocities and demand for the rescue and protection of Black bodies…we are silent. This is deafening.

We make this statement on the behalf of humanity, we ask world leaders to engage and give immediate solutions to evacuate the students of Sumy state. We call on Russian ministers to propose a cease fire period and prioritize allowing the Sumy students to cross via the Russian borders where arrangements for transportation will be made for them to get to safety or via an alternative border such as Moldova.

We call on you to back this letter and give these students a chance to see their loved ones again. We are all victims of political play, with some having more privilege to life than others - often unjustly based on skin colour. Failure to act will result in the death of 500 identified students and possibly more.




This petition made change with 2,776 supporters!

Share this petition