Last Updated on 15 March 2022 by Catherine Kelliher
The Racial Justice Advocacy Forum (RJAF) calls for coverage, prayer and action for Black and Brown peoples facing racial discrimination amidst the invasion of Ukraine.
The RJAF, of which the United Reformed Church (URC) is a part, condemns the invasion of Ukraine, and is deeply saddened by the loss of life, the destruction of homes and businesses, and the separation of families which has resulted from Putin’s war on Ukraine.
The RJAF equally condemns the racism demonstrated by Ukrainian authorities towards Black and Brown people at the borders and routes of escape from the conflict zones.
We believe that all people are made in the image of God and should be equally afforded the dignity, support, opportunity, and protection currently being withheld from many Black and Brown people fleeing for safety.
These actions demonstrate the ongoing racist attitudes in Europe which deprive those considered ‘other’ of basic human needs. The fact that we are seeing demonstrations of racism unfolding amidst this tragic and unlawful invasion is profoundly disheartening and disturbing.
Call to prayer and action
Black and Brown people, and people of Muslim faith affiliation, are facing racism and prejudice as they seek to escape the conflict in Ukraine. We ask Christians to remember all those who are being treated less than equally and fairly in the evacuation process. We must pray and act.
“It is important for Christians to pray. But for those Black and Brown people experiencing double jeopardy – war and racism – practical support needs to be offered. The fact that vast numbers of Black and Brown people are being prevented from leaving Ukraine is indicative of how deeply racism can lurk,” says the Revd Wale Hudson-Roberts, Justice Enabler – Baptist Union of Great Britain/RJAF.
We are calling upon Christians everywhere to remember and pray for those facing discrimination based on their colour, ethnicity, or faith; to pray for those who have experienced the loss of family, friends and livelihoods; and to pray for the many people who do not have access to basic needs such as food and safe shelter.
We are calling upon all Churches in the region to provide hospitality to all those fleeing Ukraine, to include both the sharing of resources and the provision of pastoral support at the borders.
We call upon media outlets to accurately report the racism faced by Black and Brown people, and to raise awareness of the unjustifiable acts of discrimination taking place in the midst of a war zone in which every day is a matter of life and death for all those caught up in the conflict.
The RJAF encourages people to write to their MPs and the High Commissions in London demanding clarification of their strategy for intervention and protection of their nationals, and to provide regular updates as events unfold.
“I think this crisis speaks to the specificity of those racialised as Black or ‘other’. It highlights the need to examine whom we extend our love and compassion towards, and to whom we deny it. It calls on faith organisations to take the lead in expanding concepts of love and justice to encompass all, and to attend to the glaring omissions that governments and civil society practice when considering whose story is told,” adds Edwina Peart, Inclusion and Diversity Coordinator – Quakers in Britain/RJAF.
The RJAF will hold fortnightly online briefings to share updates on the coordinated efforts to advocate for and support Black and Brown people facing racial discrimination in Ukraine. Christian Aid will support these briefings.
Image: Ben Masora/Unsplash.