Demand for the immediate rescue of Black people stranded in occupied Kherson, Ukraine

Demand for the immediate rescue of Black people stranded in occupied Kherson, Ukraine

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Black Women for Black Lives started this petition to United Nations Security Council and

We, the undersigned, call on the international community, especially the United Nations and Red Cross, to urgently rescue the 100+  Black people, International students and all others currently stranded in occupied Kherson, Ukraine.

Kherson is a city in southern Ukraine which has been entirely occupied by the Russian military. No one can leave, no one can enter. The Russian military has cut off food supplies and the Ukrainian military does not allow African students to take the food the Russians offer. Access to the internet, electricity, and gas has also been affected and people are living in fear and hunger.

Black Women for Black Lives (BW4BL) is in contact with some student leaders in Kherson via intermittent Wi-Fi connections and our understanding is that there are at least 100+ Africans trapped there, as well as other groups and communities.  

Kherson students are split into three to four areas of the city. Only a few live in apartments and can access the ATMs to get food from the few shops still allowed to operate. Supplies in these shops are dwindling and the prices steep. The other students in the city are starving and are not permitted to leave the university premises to get food. There is another set of students and families in a village in the Kherson region that do not have any access to food as NGOs are not permitted to deliver food there.

The students fear for their lives and being seen to be speaking publicly about their issue would be a security risk. A lot of them have not eaten in days and are starving; many report feeling suicidal.

The only way to get people out is to demand that Russia and Ukraine create a humanitarian corridor and ensure a safe passage for them to exit. This safe passage must be guaranteed, unlike previous reports of cancelled ceasefires or shelling when rescue buses were evacuating people from Sumy on March 8th.

Further, when the evacuation does happen, we demand that Black people are not treated as 2nd class humans. They have as much right to be rescued as anyone else. When students were finally rescued from Sumy, the Red Cross picked up Indian and Chinese students first and told African students they had to wait for a later bus. This bus was almost cancelled due to shelling. The fact that Black students were segmented, discriminated against and quite literally “pushed to the back of the bus line” is blatant racism and should not happen again. Every person trapped in Kherson deserves the same right to be rescued and Africans and Black people should not be told to wait again. 

We want to reiterate that while food and funding to those trapped in Kherson is important, what they want most is to be rescued. It is of critical importance that they are evacuated from this dire situation immediately and it is up to the international community to come together and do so as we did with the students stranded in Sumy. 

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