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AU condemns Ukraine ’racism’

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With more sanctions expected to be enforced against Russia, South African economists have raised their concerns as the surge in oil prices continue.

The African Union (AU) has described reports that Africans on the Ukrainian side of the border were being refused the right to cross to safety, as shockingly racist and in breach of international law.

THE African Union (AU) has described reports that Africans on the Ukrainian side of the border were being refused the right to cross to safety, as shockingly racist and in breach of international law.

AU chair and President of the Republic of Senegal, Macky Sall, and AU Commission chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat said they were closely monitoring the developments in Ukraine,were and particularly disturbed by reports that Africans were being singled out for unacceptable dissimilar treatment as they attempted to flee to safety.

This comes as Russian artillery allegedly bombarded residential districts of Ukraine’s second largest city Kharkiv on Monday, killing possibly dozens of people, according to Ukrainian officials, as Moscow’s invading forces met stiff resistance from Ukrainians on a fifth day of conflict.

Russia has maintained that it sent its army to Ukraine to defend separatists in the east from “genocide”. Russian President Vladimir Putin said the action was in response to threats coming from Ukraine, and that Russia does not have a goal to occupy Ukraine. He further accused the US and its allies of ignoring Russia’s demand to prevent Ukraine from joining Nato, and offer Moscow security guarantees.

The AU said last night it was disturbed by reports that Africans were treated differently by officials, urging all countries to respect international law and show the same empathy and support to all people fleeing war notwithstanding their racial identity.

“The two chairpersons (Sall and Mahamat) recall that all people have the right to cross international borders during conflict, and as such, should enjoy the same rights to cross to safety from the conflict in Ukraine, notwithstanding their nationality or racial identity. The chairpersons commend the efforts by African Union Member State countries and their embassies in neighbouring countries to receive and orientate African citizens and their families trying to cross the border from Ukraine to safety,” the pair said in a statement.

Their remarks came as local economists warned of dire economic strain for South Africa, as world powers slap Russia with sanctions following Moscow’s military operation in Ukraine.

The US and its allies began with sanctions after months of failed attempts to convince Putin as Russian Federation leader not to conduct any military operations in the Eastern European country.

With more sanctions expected to be enforced against Russia, South African economists have raised their concerns as the surge in oil prices continue.

Independent economist Professor Bonke Dumisa said although it was not desirable for any country to be invaded, the conflict between the two countries should not be blamed only on Russia.

“The matter of Ukraine’s intention to join Nato is a problem for Russia. As a former Soviet Union leader, Russia would never allow this because it would bring the US closer to its borders and threaten its security.

“How it affects us is that the fuel prices are going up as of Wednesday, and this will affect everyone in the country. On Thursday, crude oil prices went up and this means as the consumers we will take serious strain, and therefore, there will be no economic growth at all.”

Dumisa stated that South Africa traded with both Russia and Ukraine, and that wheat was one of the products which meant that anything made from wheat would be affected.

“South Africa must immediately switch over and find alternative partners it will import from before full sanctions come into effect. If these sanctions against Russia come into effect, countries doing business with the Kremlin will be negatively impacted,” he warned.

Chairperson of Muslims for Humanity and chief executive of Willowton Group, Zubeir Moosa, echoed Dumisa’s sentiments and expressed concern about the negative impact the conflict would have on the country.

“Ukraine is the number one supplier for oil, and Russia is the second. Now, the oil price has been on an increment over the past 18 months. So, the current conflict will have severe consequences for South Africa in the next few weeks, if not resolved. There is already an increase in the oil price due to it, at 25% to 30%,” said Moosa.

South Africa and Russia are both members of the BRICS bloc, which includes Brazil, India, and China. The BRICS members have not been vocal in condemning Russia, except South Africa which last week called on Russia to withdraw its forces in Ukraine. However, this statement is believed to have angered President Cyril Ramaphosa.

Additional reporting by Reuters

Cape Times

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