As the Russian invasion of Ukraine continues, Indian and African refugees trying to leave the country have shared harrowing stories of racism from Ukrainian security and Polish border forces.

Nigerian medical student Rachel Onyegbule told CNN that she and other Black students were forcefully removed from an evacuation bus in favour of Ukrainian nationals and told to walk instead.

“My body was numb from the cold and we haven’t slept in about 4 days now,” she said.

“Ukrainians have been prioritized over Africans — men and women — at every point. There’s no need for us to ask why. We know why. I just want to get home.”

Rachel’s story was echoed by Osarumen, a Nigerian national and father-of-three, who told The Independent that he and his family members were were also told to disembark a bus about to cross the Ukraine/Poland border on Saturday.

He said they were told, “No Blacks” and ejected from the vehicle.

“This isn’t just happening to Black people – even Indians, Arabs and Syrians,” he said.

In a phone interview with CNN, Indian medical student Saakshi Ijantkar claimed Ukrainian nationals were offered transport in taxis and buses while she and other Indians were forced to walk miles between check-points.

“They were very cruel,” she said.

“The second checkpoint was the worst.

“They only allowed the Indian girls to get in. We had to literally cry and beg at their feet. After the Indian girls got in, the boys were beaten up. There was no reason for them to beat us with this cruelty,” she said.

Dozens of videos have circulated social media of similar instances happening to African refugees across the board, with multiple claims that that non-white Ukrainian refugees were being denied entry to Poland at the border.

Medyka-Shehyni, another Nigerian student crossing between Poland and Ukraine told The Independent that she had to wait seven hours because border guards were stopping Black people and sending them to the back of the queue. She said they were only letting “Ukrainians” through first.

“This situation is bringing out the best and the worst in some people,” she said.

“We’ve been stopped by some military and armed police officers; some have been very nice and some have been aggressive. It tends to be worse as it gets darker.”

The reports have come amidst criticism of the coverage of Russia’s invasion itself, with western media painting Ukrainian refugees as essentially more sympathetic than Middle Eastern refugees because they are “white.”

Our own government here in Australia has claimed there is “a lot of room” for Ukrainian refugees, despite its imprisonment of Sri Lankan and Iranian refugees in immigration detention. The double standards in the way the west views white vs non-white refugees is stark to say the least.

Our solidarity should always be with people seeking to dismantle oppressive state regimes, whether they are from Ukraine, Afghanistan, or Palestine.

What we’re not going to do is indulge narratives that paint Ukrainian refugees as more deserving of safety and protection on the grounds of their whiteness.

White supremacy permeates every corner of the western world, right down to the crisis unfolding in Ukraine — and it’s important to call it out even when it comes from the people we support.