Ukraine War: How „borderless“ is our solidarity?


There has been war in Ukraine for 8 years. For a week now, the Russian government has extended this war to the whole of Ukraine, once again violating international and human rights in many ways. We support the sanctions against the Russian state, the oligarchs and all other warmongers in Russia. It should be noted that these sanctions must not affect the broad Russian population and block access to essential goods such as medicines, etc. Uninvolved in the war must not be targeted. That is why we also support the expressions of solidarity with the Ukrainian people. All possible measures must be taken to bring the multitude of fleeing women and children and the people remaining in the country to safety and to stop the war.

At the same time, we are stunned when we look at the many fates of those who were recently deported from Germany to the supposedly safe country of origin Ukraine. This is what happened to Tatjana S., a volunteer at DaMigra. After six years in Germany, she and many other Ukrainians were deported in 2021. Now they are looking for protection here again. Today, the Federal Ministry of the Interior (BMI) classifies the regular visa procedure as unreasonable and pleads for an unbureaucratic solution for the reception of fleeing people from Ukraine. We ask ourselves: Why does it happen again and again that people are deported to war regions, even though the situation of the countries on the ground should be known? Is this about ignorance and a lack of willingness to learn on the part of the Federal Government? Or is it rather a domestic political calculation to expel refugees and those seeking help outside the EU borders for as long as possible, even though it is known that it is not safe for them?

When the Taliban invaded Afghanistan last August, the German government acted far too late and no rescue evacuation flights have been carried out of the country for half a year now. Shortly before the Taliban took over the country completely and the Bundeswehr withdrew, the German government deported Afghan people back to Afghanistan. Furthermore, Afghan refugees are also located at the external borders of Europe.

The current war in Ukraine has so far led to almost 600,000 refugees, who are now also seeking help at those borders. Authorities in Ukraine warn that up to five million people could flee. Men between the ages of 18 and 60 are required to stay in the country and do military service. This regulation also affects trans people whose passports have the entry ‚m‘ for male. Above all, many women and children are currently fleeing the country. In addition, many LGBTQIA+ people are also trying to get to safety for fear of increasing persecution. During the flight, they are threatened with additional rejection, repression and violence. The refugees often spent several days at border crossings freezing in the cold. Little mention is made of the approximately 16,000 students from African countries (mainly Nigeria, Morocco and Egypt) living in Ukraine, who reportedly receive no support from the respective embassies in Ukraine for their departure. It is also particularly difficult for refugees, the elderly, and people with disabilities to escape. According to reports, access to trains and buses in Ukraine is made more difficult for black people. According to various media reports, Ukrainian security officers are prioritizing white Ukrainians. People who do not speak Ukrainian find it difficult to obtain information on how to leave the country safely. It is mainly individuals as well as anti-racist initiatives that are currently setting up and supervising aid and information structures. These events show once again that not all people are treated equally. Even on the run, some are threatened racially and/or sexistly. The refugee women from Ukraine told us and still report today that especially in Luhansk and Donetsk all gender-based violence has increased for years. We also know these images from Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and many other war regions of the world.

„Especially in crisis situations, we must pay particular attention to the already disadvantaged groups and their situation. It is not the same for all people to flee, they start with different conditions: with or without contacts abroad, with or without physical limitations, with or without financial resources. Racism, sexism and classism do not stop where they start their journey or where it ends,“ says Dr. Delal Atmaca, Managing Director of DaMigra e. V.

Meanwhile, in Germany, we are witnessing hostility against people from Russia, or people who are mistaken for Russians – on the streets and on social media. They are insulted and belittled for Putin’s war. But it is not the Russian people who are waging war against Ukraine, but the autocratic state that denies its own citizens the right to free elections, freedom of expression or freedom of the press! We vehemently reject these indiscriminate insults and recriminations of individual people living in Germany. We support the many courageous people in Russia who, despite the threat of repression and imprisonment, protest against the war and carry out information work! Here in Germany, too, courageous Russians raise their voices and show solidarity.

What we need is an intersectional perspective on the EU’s existing refugee and migration policy. What we also need is solidarity with ALL people who are fleeing. Because every escape happens forcibly. People have no choice and have to leave their country in war situations and seek protection in countries far away from home. We therefore appeal for humanity and solidarity with ALL refugees — regardless of skin color or first language — and not to forget the most vulnerable among them.

We demand: An uncomplicated distribution and accommodation of ALL people who are on the run. We call for safe escape routes and a rapid reception of all vulnerable people at the EU’s external borders. Above all, however, we call for a fundamental rethinking of the EU’s migration policy, which does not only show solidarity when Western Europe sees itself at risk.

DaMigra e.V. represents the interests of migrant women’s self-organisations and their interests and is committed to equal opportunities, equal participation and the equality of women with migration history and refugee experience in Germany. DaMigra pursues the approach of anti-racist feminism.