African refugees and asylum seekers in Belgium
As #Ukrainian refugees are welcomed by their neighbours, those fleeing the same war bearing a different skin colour and passport continue to be discriminated against. #European countries have unfortunately demonstrated a #racist and #xenophobic approach to humanitarian aid and international law. This includes establishing #segregation lines separating (and obstructing) #black from #white#refugees.
In #Belgium, this is no different. Last year, nearly 500 refugees took part in a hunger strike for over 7 weeks, demanding the right to live and work legally in Belgium. But, contrary to the current mobilisation around Ukrainians, the #African refugee community in Belgium was met with disdain and condescending attitudes. "Why are you doing this hunger strike? Belgium is small. We can't accept all of you," an emergency doctor berated a 27-year-old #Algerian who had collapsed after one month on strike. This wrongly-named "undocumented migrant," Chouaib #Lakoighet, is none other than a decorated kickboxer and Kung Fu athlete with a bright future—if only Belgium's racism wasn't so blatant.
According to Sammy Mahdi, Belgian Secretary of State for #Asylum and #Migration, the country expects to receive 200,000 Ukrainian refugees. In stark contrast, Belgium failed to give the same priority to Ethiopian refugees fleeing the civil war in the #Tigray region. Likewise, Belgian authorities can now reject #Afghan nationals since #Afghanistan is no longer considered a risk country by Belgium.
WeDecolonizeVUB has called out the unequal treatment of African students and co. At the Ukrainian borders and the misrepresentation of non-European conflicts and displaced people in Western #media.
Daisy Van de Vorst from #WeDecolonizeVUB explained that the racism we are witnessing is not a new phenomenon for Africans: "We felt that we had to speak out about this situation. It is painful to see that people from our diaspora are treated differently in a war situation […] We know things like this happen and it's unfortunate and painful."