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Polish border guard with migrant child. Twitter
Pretoria

Poland opens border after South Africa complains about their treatment of blacks

There is a very diverse crowd on the German-Polish border currently trying to take advantage of the war situation. Do they really all come from Ukraine?

Published: March 5, 2022, 9:54 am

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    At the end of February, Polish border guards faced accusations of racially discriminating against people of African origin at their country’s border with Ukraine.

    But anyone who wants to enter Poland has to prove their identity by presenting valid identification papers. This applies to everyone, regardless of the color of their skin.

    At the Polish-Ukrainian border some people of African origin who did not have a valid passport were turned away, and the Polish customs are now confronted with accusations of racism even though they had turned away whites as well.

    Clayson Monyela, Deputy Director-General of Public Diplomacy at South Africa’s foreign ministry DIRCO, lashed out at Poland on Twitter: “South African students and other Africans were treated badly at the Ukrainian-Polish border.”

    A formulation apparently deliberately kept vague, which obscures the core of the problem. A spokeswoman for the Polish border guard countered: “The officers of the Polish border guard help all people fleeing the war zone of Ukraine. Citizenship or nationality doesn’t matter.”

    This is reported by German daily Zeit with reference to dpa. “Videos of scenes on the Polish-Ukrainian border were shared on social media over the weekend. Some African refugees had alleged that border officials on the Ukrainian side had prevented them from crossing the border for days in the cold and without supplies – while white refugees were able to cross them.”

    From a purely external point of view, that may be true. Any white person wanting to enter the country may have a passport and they may be let through. If a black entrant does not have a passport, he will be rejected. Not only is this not racism, but a legal argument: Nobody has the right to enter another country without valid papers, not even if they come from Africa.

    Many black South Africans agreed with the legal requirement of showing a valid travel document when crossing a border and attacked Monyela on Twitter instead for coming to the rescue of other Africans.

    Black foreigners are often derided as “amakwerekwere” in South Africa and black South Africans have called for closed borders to stop other Africans from entering the country. They also rightly feel that South Africa should stop paying for the terrible economic consequences of disastrous black rule in Zimbabwe and elsewhere on the continent.

    The presence of other Africans have led to fierce and deadly ethnic clashes in the past. The American notion of black versus white does not hold up to the realities in Africa.

    In May 2008 a series of riots erupted in Johannesburg when locals attacked migrants from Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe, slaughtering hundreds of foreigners. The governing ANC has since felt the pressure against African migrants mounting: In 2020 the Gauteng Provincial government proposed the Gauteng Township Economic Development Bill which seeks to prevent businesses operated by foreign nationals without official South African residency from operating businesses in the province’s informal economy.

    In Germany, officers of the Federal Border Guard are being pilloried by the good and better people. They allegedly fished Africans out of a train at Frankfurt Oder station and checked their identity papers, selecting those to be checked only because of their black skin colour.

    There were “accusations in the social media against the behaviour of the police at the Frankfurt train station”, the public broadcaster RBB reported. “People of African origin had been expelled from the trains, while Ukrainians were allowed to continue their journey, which was racist.”

    Jens Schobranski, press spokesman for the Berlin-Brandenburg Federal Police, rejected the accusation of “racial profiling” and said: “We are not concerned with the person, where they come from. We are concerned with the status of that person. We don’t base our actions on the external appearance, we look at the document situation of the people on the train.”

    Because of the bad publicity, Ukrainian war refugees are currently allowed to enter Germany without further ado. However, according to Schobranski, there are “free riders”, and these are “people who use the situation of the displaced persons for their own purposes”. They are – allegedly – sent back to Poland.

    And among them, according to reports, are often people whose skin colour makes a Ukrainian origin seem very unlikely.

    According to some reports, the “second wave” of refugees from Ukraine to Poland, Moldova and Romania go there for two reasons: first because they want to get their expensive cars away from the Ukrainian forces or armed marauders posing as such, because such cars are often “seized” by them.

    Strangely enough, they mostly “seize” expensive German brands.

    Secondly, some want to take advantage of the fact that border controls between Poland and Ukraine, which used to be really very strict, have pretty much broken down due to the chaos.

    Due to being forced to open their borders, the mood in Poland is already shifting. The NATO weapons that Ukraine has received over the last months have landed on the open market as a stroll through some of the Ukrainian outdoor markets show. And this will certainly reflect in the attitude of Polish citizens towards Ukrainians in the future despite their love for NATO.

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