• Non-white refugees fleeing Ukraine detained in EU immigration facilities

    Non-white students who have fled Ukraine have been detained by EU border authorities in what has been condemned as “clearly discriminatory” and “not acceptable”.

    An investigation by The Independent, in partnership with Lighthouse Reports and other media partners, reveals that Ukraine residents of African origin who have crossed the border to escape the war have been placed in closed facilities, with some having been there for a number of weeks.

    At least four students who have fled Vladimir Putin’s invasion are being held in a long-term holding facility Lesznowola, a village 40km from the Polish capital Warsaw, with little means of communication with the outside world and no legal advice.

    One of the students said they were stopped by officials as they crossed the border and were given “no choice” but to sign a document they did not understand before they were then taken to the camp. They do not know how long they will be held there.

    A Nigerian man currently detained said he was “scared” about what will happen to him after being held in the facility for more than three weeks.

    Polish border police have confirmed that 52 third-country nationals who have fled Ukraine are currently being held in detention facilities in Poland.

    The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) said they were aware of three other facilities in Poland where people non-Ukrainians who have fled the war are being detained.

    Separately, a Nigerian student who fled the Russian invasion is understood to have been detained in Estonia after travelling to the country to join relatives, and is now being threatened with deportation.

    This is despite a EU protection directive dated 4 March which states that third country nationals studying or working in Ukraine should be admitted to the EU temporarily on humanitarian grounds.

    Maria Arena, chair of the EU parliament’s subcommittee on human rights, said: “International students in Ukraine, as well as Ukrainians, are at risk and risking their lives in the country. Detention, deportation or any other measure that does not grant them protection is not acceptable.”

    The findings of the investigation, which was carried out in collaboration with Lighhtouse Reports, Spiegal, Mediapart and Radio France, comes after it emerged that scores of Black and Asian refugees fleeing Ukraine were experiencing racial discrimination while trying to make border crossing last month.
    ‘They took us here to the camp... I’m scared’

    Gabriel*, 29, had been studying trade and economics in Kharkov before war broke out. The Nigerian national left the city and arrived at the border on 27 February, where he says his phone was confiscated by Polish border guards and he was given “no option” but to sign a form he did not understand.

    “It was written in Polish. I didn’t know what I was signing. I said I wouldn’t sign, but they insisted I signed it and that if not I would go to jail for five months,” he said in a recorded conversation with a Nigerian activist.

    The student said he was then taken to court, where there was no interpreter to translate what was being said so that he could understand, and then taken to a detention centre in the small village of Lesznowola.

    “It is a closed camp inside a forest,” said Gabriel, speaking from the facility. “There’s no freedom. Some people have been here more than nine months. Some have gone mad. I’m scared.

    “We escaped Ukraine very horrible experience, the biggest risk of my life [...] Everything was scary and I thought that was the end of it. And now we are in detention.”

    Gabriel said there are at least two other Nigerian students in the camp, along with students from Cameroon, Ghana, the Ivory Coast and French African nations.

    Guards at the centre said inmates have their mobile phones confiscated, with only those who have a second sim card given a phone without a camera.

    Many can only communicate with the outside world via email – and even this is said to be limited to certain times.

    Another individual detained at the centre is Paul, 20, a Cameroonian who had been studying management and language at Agrarian University Bila Tserkva in Kyiv for six months when the war started.

    His brother, Victor, who is in Cameroon, said Paul had told him that he had been apprehended while crossing the border and that on 2 March, a Polish judge ordered that he be transferred to Lesznowola detention centre.

    “From his explanation, the camp doesn’t seem like one that welcomes people fleeing from the war in Ukraine. It’s a camp that has been existing and has people that came to seek for asylum. No one knows why he is being detained,” he said.

    Victor said that Paul was given seven days to appeal the decision to detain him, but that he has been unable to access the internet in order to file the appeal in time.

    “Since that day he filed the appeal, police and guards try to restrict them. He used to get five minutes of internet but on that day they stopped letting them use the internet. The phone he used to communicate with me was blocked. Maybe it’s because they realised that the issue was taking on a legal dimension,” he said.
    ‘He’s not allowed to be in Estonia’

    This investigation has also heard reports that a Nigerian student, Reuben, is facing deportation from Estonia after being detained having fled the war in Ukraine.

    Prior to his arrival in the eastern European country, 32-year-old Reuben emailed the head of International House, a service centre that helps internationals in Estonia to communicate with the state, explaining that he wanted to join his cousin living in the country.

    The head of the organisation Leonardo Ortega responded by letter that he may relocate to Estonia.

    Reuben, who attended Bila Tserkva National Agrarian University in Ukraine and is married to a Ukrainian woman, arrived on 9 March through Poland with his cousin Peter.

    After being delayed for three hours at the Estonia border, the pair were escorted to a police station, according to Peter, 30, who has an Estonian residency permit.

    He said three police officers escorted his cousin away with his luggage and said he would be detained for two days themn deported back to Nigeria.

    The officers reportedly advised that the 32-year-old would be banned from entering any Schengen country for the next five years; his phone was confiscated and he’s been in detention since.

    “A few officers said ‘he’s not allowed to be in Estonia’. Even after asking for international protection, we were told that my cousin needs to have a lawyer to fight his case, but most of the lawyers I initially contacted refused to take my cousin’s case,” said Peter.

    “He received an email in advance saying it was okay to come - and after everything we went through, the next thing they want to deport and ban him for five years. I don’t know why deportation came into the picture.”

    Criney, a London-based campaigner who has been supporting the affected students on a voluntary basis, said there was an “emerging pattern of arbitrary detention of students coming out of Ukraine fleeing the war”.

    “There are other cases in Austria and Germany with regards to students who have applied for asylum or asked for permits to remain,” the campaigner said.
    Detained ‘for the purpose of identity verification’

    The EU directive on 4 March aims to help refugees fleeing the invasion to stay for at least one year in one country and also have access to the labour market and education.

    It states that it also applies to “nationals of third countries other than Ukraine residing legally in Ukraine who are unable to return in safe and durable conditions to their country or region of origin”.

    This can include third-country nationals who were studying or working in Ukraine, it states, adding that this cohort should “in any event be admitted into the union on humanitarian grounds”, without requiring valid travel documents, to ensure “safe passage with a view to returning to their country or region of origin”.

    Michał Dworczyk, a top aide to the Polish prime minister, said when war broke out that “everyone escaping the war will be received in Poland, including people without passports”.

    But the Polish government has admitted that it is sending some of this cohort to closed facilities once they cross the border.

    In a tweet on 2 March, the Polish ministry of internal affairs and administration said: “Ukrainians are fleeing the war, people of other nationalities are also fleeing. All those who do not have documents and cannot prove Ukrainian citizenship are carefully checked. If there is a need, they go to closed detention centres.”

    In a letter to a member of the EU Parliament, Poland’s border police admitted that 52 third country nationals who had fled from Ukraine had been taken to closed detention centres in the first three weeks of the war.

    The letter stated that this was necessary “to carry out administrative proceedings for granting international protection or issuing a decision on obliging a foreigner to return”.

    Ryan Schroeder, press officer at the IOM, said the organisation was aware of three other facilities in Poland where “third-country nationals arriving from Ukraine, who lack proper travel documentation, are brought to for the purpose of identity verification”.

    The Polish government, the Polish police and the Estonian authorities declined to comment on the allegations.

    A spokesperson for the Polish border force said it “couldn’t give any detail about the procedures on foreigners because of the protection on personal data”, adding that it is “the court which takes the decision each time to place people in guarded centres for foreigners”.
    ‘Clearly unsatisfactory and discriminatory’

    Steve Peers, a professor of EU law in the UK, says that even if member states choose not to apply temporary protection to legal residents of Ukraine, they should give them “simplified entry, humanitarian support and safe passage to their country of origin”.

    “In my view this is obviously a case where students could not have applied for a visa and might not meet the other usual criteria to cross the external borders, yet there are overwhelming reasons to let them cross the border anyway on humanitarian grounds. There are no good grounds for immigration detention in the circumstances,” he added.

    Jeff Crisp, a former head of policy, development and evaluation at UNHCR, said it was “clearly unsatisfactory and discriminatory” for third country nationals who have fled from Ukraine to be held in detention centres in EU states, “not least because of the trauma they will have experienced in their efforts to leave Ukraine and find safety elsewhere”.

    He added: “They should be released immediately and treated on an equal basis with all others who have been forced to leave Ukraine.”

    It comes after the UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi warned this week that, although he had been “humbled” by the outpouring of support seen by communities welcoming Ukrainian refugees, many minorities – often foreigners who had been studying or working there – had described a very different experience.

    “We also bore witness to the ugly reality, that some Black and Brown people fleeing Ukraine – and other wars and conflicts around the world – have not received the same treatment as Ukrainian refugees,” he said.

    “They reported disturbing incidents of discrimination, violence, and racism. These acts of discrimination are unacceptable, and we are using our many channels and resources to make sure that all people are protected equally.”

    Mr Grandi appealed to countries, in particular those neighbouring Ukraine, to continue to allow entry to anyone fleeing the conflict “without discrimination on grounds of race, colour, descent, or national or ethnic origin and regardless of their immigration status”.

    *Names have been changed

    https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/ukraine-refugees-detention-international-students-b2041310.html

    #étudiants #Ukraine #rétention #détention_administrative #guerre #guerre_en_Ukraine #Pologne #Estonie #réfugiés_ukrainiens #réfugiés_d'Ukraine

    • I rifugiati “non bianchi” in fuga dall’Ucraina finiscono nei centri di detenzione

      Un’indagine di The Independent in collaborazione con Lighthouse Reports lo dice chiaro e tondo: i residenti ucraini di origine africana che hanno attraversato il confine per sfuggire alla guerra sono stati rinchiusi in centri per l’immigrazione, alcuni di loro si trovano lì da diverse settimane.

      Almeno quattro studenti fuggiti dall’invasione di Vladimir Putin sono detenuti in una struttura di detenzione a lungo termine di Lesznowola, un villaggio a 40 km dalla capitale polacca Varsavia, con pochi mezzi di comunicazione con il mondo esterno e senza consulenza legale. Uno di loro ha detto di essere stato fermato dai funzionari mentre attraversavano il confine e di non aver avuto “scelta”: ha dovuto di firmare un documento che non comprendeva prima di essere trasferito al campo. Un uomo nigeriano attualmente detenuto ha detto di essere “spaventato” per quello che gli accadrà dopo essere stato trattenuto nella struttura per più di tre settimane.

      La polizia di frontiera polacca ha confermato che 52 cittadini di Paesi terzi fuggiti dall’Ucraina sono attualmente detenuti in centri di detenzione in Polonia. L’Organizzazione internazionale per le migrazioni (Oim) ha affermato di essere a conoscenza di altre tre strutture in Polonia dove sono detenute persone non ucraine fuggite dalla guerra. Uno studente nigeriano fuggito dall’invasione russa sarebbe stato detenuto in Estonia dopo essersi recato nel Paese per raggiungere i parenti e ora è minacciato di espulsione.

      Maria Arena, presidente della commissione per i diritti umani del parlamento Ue, ha dichiarato: «Gli studenti internazionali in Ucraina, così come gli ucraini, sono a rischio e rischiano la vita nel Paese. La detenzione, l’espulsione o qualsiasi altra misura che non garantisca loro protezione non è accettabile».

      Jeff Crisp, ex capo della politica, dello sviluppo e della valutazione dell’Unhcr, ha affermato che è «chiaramente insoddisfacente e discriminatorio» che cittadini di Paesi terzi fuggiti dall’Ucraina vengano trattenuti nei centri di detenzione negli Stati dell’Ue. Ha aggiunto: «Dovrebbero essere rilasciati immediatamente e trattati alla pari con tutti gli altri che sono stati costretti a lasciare l’Ucraina».

      L’Alto Commissario delle Nazioni Unite per i rifugiati Filippo Grandi ha avvertito questa settimana che, sebbene sia soddisfatto dal sostegno dei Paesi che accolgono i rifugiati ucraini, molte minoranze – spesso stranieri che vi hanno studiato o lavorato – hanno descritto un’esperienza molto diversa. «Abbiamo anche testimoniato una pessima realtà: alcuni neri in fuga dall’Ucraina – e altre guerre e conflitti in tutto il mondo – non hanno ricevuto lo stesso trattamento dei rifugiati ucraini», ha spiegato.

      Se ne parla ormai da settimane. Intanto il razzismo continua. Aiutare tutti, ma proprio tutti: questo è il dovere.

      Buon venerdì.

      https://left.it/2022/03/25/i-rifugiati-non-bianchi-in-fuga-dallucraina-finiscono-nei-centri-di-detenzione

    • Des réfugiés fuyant la guerre en Ukraine sont détenus en Pologne

      Selon une enquête menée sous l’égide de Lighthouse Reports – une ONG spécialisée dans l’investigation, à laquelle se sont joints plusieurs médias européens dont Mediapart –, plusieurs étudiants étrangers ayant fui l’Ukraine en guerre séjournent actuellement dans des centres d’accueil fermés en Pologne, en situation de détention.

      https://www.mediapart.fr/journal/international/230322/des-refugies-fuyant-la-guerre-en-ukraine-sont-detenus-en-pologne

    • "C’est comme si j’étais un criminel" : des étudiants étrangers enfermés en Pologne après avoir fui l’Ukraine

      Une enquête réalisée par Radio France, en partenariat avec plusieurs médias internationaux et avec le soutien de l’ONG Lighthouse Reports, révèle que plusieurs étudiants d’origine africaine qui vivaient en Ukraine sont actuellement détenus dans des centres fermés pour étrangers en Pologne.

      Ils faisaient des études dans les technologies de l’information, dans le management, à Kharkiv, à Lutsk ou encore à Bila Tserkva…et se retrouvent désormais enfermés dans un centre de détention pour étrangers à une quarantaine de kilomètres de Varsovie, après avoir fui la guerre en Ukraine. C’est ce que révèle l’enquête de Radio France, mercredi 23 mars, menée en partenariat avec plusieurs médias internationaux et avec le soutien de l’ONG Lighthouse Reports.

      « Je ne pensais pas me retrouver dans cette situation en fuyant en Pologne, comme si j’étais un criminel », témoigne Samuel (le prénom a été changé) au téléphone, étudiant de Kharkiv, dans le nord-est de l’Ukraine. Après avoir voyagé jusqu’à Kiev, puis Lviv (près de la frontière polonaise), le jeune Nigérian explique avoir traversé la frontière le 27 février avec sa carte d’étudiant, son passeport étant resté à l’université pour des raisons administratives. « Mais quand je suis arrivé en Pologne, les garde-frontières m’ont dit qu’ils ne pouvaient pas me laisser circuler, car je n’ai pas de passeport, et pour cette raison, je devais être détenu », se remémore celui qui a de la famille en Allemagne, enfermé depuis plus de trois semaines.

      Le 25 février, Michał Dworczyk, chef du cabinet du Premier ministre polonais, assurait pourtant que « toute personne fuyant la guerre serait accueilli en Pologne, notamment les personnes sans passeport ». « Difficile de ne pas y voir du racisme », observe Małgorzata Rycharska, de l’ONG Hope & Humanity Poland, qui ajoute « ne pas comprendre pourquoi ces personnes ont été enfermées ». Contactée, l’ambassade du Cameroun à Berlin, qui a identifié pour l’instant trois de ses ressortissants dans ces centres fermés, fait part aussi de sa surprise. Et assure que les étudiants camerounais avaient des documents d’identité valides avec eux.
      52 étrangers fuyant l’Ukraine envoyés dans des centres fermés

      Dans le centre de Lesznowola, une vingtaine de non-Ukrainiens arrivant d’Ukraine sont actuellement détenus, parmi lesquels nous avons identifié pour l’instant quatre étudiants d’origine africaine. En tout, il y aurait 52 personnes étrangères fuyant l’Ukraine envoyées dans ces centres fermés du 24 février au 15 mars, selon une lettre des garde-frontières adressée au député Tomasz Anisko.

      Lettre des garde-frontières polonais indiquant que 52 personnes non-ukrainiennes mais fuyant l’Ukraine ont été envoyés du 24 février au 15 mars dans des centres pour étrangers.

      Contactés, les garde-frontières indiquent ne pas pouvoir donner davantage d’informations, pour des raisons de protection d’identité. De son côté, l’Organisation internationale pour les migrations (OIM) explique « être au courant de trois centres en Pologne où les ressortissants de pays tiers arrivant d’Ukraine, sans documents de voyage adéquats, sont emmenés pour des vérifications d’identité » mais précise ne pas inclure celui de Lesznowola.

      « Nous sommes des étudiants d’Ukraine, nous ne méritons pas d’être ici », dénonce Samuel, qui ajoute ne pas comprendre pourquoi il se retrouve dans un centre où sont enfermés des migrants ayant tenté de traverser illégalement la frontière avec la Biélorussie l’an dernier. Gabriel (le prénom a été changé), un autre étudiant nigérian qui étudiait à l’Institut national du commerce et de l’économie de Kharkiv, raconte lui qu’à son arrivée en Pologne, « les garde-frontières nous ont pris nos téléphones de force ». Dans un entretien téléphonique avec un représentant de la diaspora nigériane - obtenu par Radio France -, Gabriel indique avoir été forcé à demander la protection internationale en Pologne, « sinon ils m’ont dit que j’allais en prison ». Dans l’attente de la décision, il a été envoyé dans ce camp fermé où il séjourne depuis fin février, décrivant « une situation très mauvaise ».

      Si théoriquement, la loi polonaise permet le placement en centres fermés en cas de demande d’asile dans des situations très précises (en cas de risque, par exemple, que la personne s’échappe lors de la procédure), la pratique diffère. Varsovie avait déjà été pointé du doigt par l’ONU pour la détention systématique de migrants et réfugiés lors de la crise à la frontière biélorusse l’an dernier. « Plein de gens ici sont devenus fous, je suis terrifié, il y en a qui sont là depuis neuf mois », s’effraie Gabriel. Pas d’accès à des avocats, téléphones avec caméra retirés, accès internet d’une vingtaine de minutes par jour seulement… L’étudiant, qui indique être passé devant un tribunal, menottes aux poignets, explique ne jamais avoir voulu demander l’asile en Pologne. « Nous étions juste des étudiants, répète-t-il. Ils devraient me déporter et me laisser rentrer au Nigeria, mais même cela, ça peut prendre parfois six mois », s’inquiète-t-il.

      https://www.francetvinfo.fr/monde/europe/manifestations-en-ukraine/enquete-c-est-comme-si-j-etais-un-criminel-des-etudiants-etrangers-enfe