Verify reports on Ukraine invasion before sharing, EU cautions Kenyans

A scene after Russian forces bombarded Kyiv. [Reuters]

The European Union has cautioned Kenyans against sharing unverified reports on the current Russian invasion of Ukraine.

The Union said it is alarmed at how social media users across the country have shared videos and photos purported to be from Ukraine without an effort to verify.

“The EU regrets the incorrect and skewed media reporting on this issue that has repeatedly appeared in various Kenyan outlets and social media, and calls for careful verification of the facts,” read part of a statement.

The statement said given that in some cases deliberate disinformation is being spread about the war, the EU Embassies present in Kenya are ready to provide accurate data.

The statement comes after Ukrainian Embassy in Kenya refuted claims that African citizens were being discriminated against.

Ambassador Andrii Pravednyk said in Ukraine there is no discrimination based on race, skin colour or nationality including when it comes to the crossing of the state border by foreign citizens.

The African Union last week raised concerns saying that all people have the right to cross international borders during the conflict and should enjoy the same rights to cross to safety from the conflict in Ukraine, notwithstanding their nationality or racial identity.

Thousands of African and other foreign nationals, particularly students, have been scrambling to leave Ukraine following Russia's invasion. 

But as hundreds of thousands throng Ukraine's borders, overwhelming authorities in neighbouring countries, reports emerged that Africans are being treated differently and sometimes prevented from leaving.

Not authenticated

Several shared videos and testimonies on social media, denouncing discrimination at train stations and border posts. Reuters has not been able to authenticate the videos.

"Reports that Africans are singled out for unacceptable dissimilar treatment would be shockingly racist and in breach of international law," AU Chair, Senegal's President Macky Sall, and Moussa Faki Mahamat head of AU Commission said in a joint statement.

But the Union in its response said the EU Member States bordering Ukraine have granted unrestricted safe haven to escaping Kenyans.

The union said since Russia started the bombardment of Ukraine last Thursday, the EU Member States bordering Ukraine- Poland, Slovakia, Hungary and Romania immediately recognised the serious humanitarian urgency and have granted unrestricted access to Ukrainians and other nationals escaping Ukraine, including Kenyans.

The statement said the usual entry requirements have been waived. No visa, no vaccination, and even no passports are needed for entry.

“Over 200 Kenyan citizens were stranded in Ukraine due to the invasion. A large proportion of these are students. Contrary to some media reports, those Kenyans who have arrived at the borders have been assisted and allowed to enter safely into the EU Member States: Poland, Slovakia, Hungary and Romania,” the statement said.

In response to the very large Ukrainian refugee flows into the EU Member States, European Commissioner Johansson has announced a European Solidarity Platform to coordinate support to those Member States in need.

 The European Commission is also coordinating the reception places offered by other non-bordering Member States.