From Ukraine to Berlin, July 2022

Video by Oblique Collective* in collaboration with BIPoC Ukraine & friends in germany

“It’s super depressing that my life is going ways I never planned for it to go. But it’s not fair that everyone fled the same war but we are being treated differently.”
“Ukraine was my home. I grew up there. My adult life was there.”
“Everywhere I went, I was told ‘Sorry, you’re not a Ukrainian’.” 

Half a year after their lives were upended by the beginning of the Russian war of aggression in Ukraine and they were forced to run for their lives to escape the violence of war, Layna (19), Menes (27), Ona (21), and BB (23) still haven’t found stability and safety. The war, compounded by the racism they’ve been experiencing on every step of the way,, is still deeply disrupting their daily lives on an existential level.

As third-country nationals who lived in the Ukraine, all BIPoC and students, they do not get the same protection and welcome in Germany as their former neighbours, Ukrainians who fled the same war.

Ronel, one of the founders of BIPoC Ukraine and friends in Germany, explains:

“We want equal treatment for all refugees fleeing the Russian war in Ukraine – regardless of skin color, background, or passport”

“Section 24 is a temporary protection directive that was created in 2001 by the EU. Section 24 allows easy, quick, and effective assistance to people fleeing a war. It was activated for the first time in march 2022, 21 years after its creation. In Germany, Ukrainian refugees are granted a two-year residence permit. However, third-state nationals from Ukraine do not receive the same treatment. Instead of a two-year resident permit, third-state nationalists face the deadline of the 31st of August and possible deportation after that deadline.
This unequal treatment creates an uncertain situation which makes it almost impossible to apply for jobs, university admission, or vocational training in Germany”

On August 16th, right after this video was completed, the Berlin Senate announced the possibility of a 6-month fictional certificate for people who can prove that they were studying in Ukraine. But the August 31st deadline still holds in many ways:

Those who are unable to provide the necessary documents face the threat of becoming illegalised – and consequently the threat of deportation – after that date. Often they cannot provide the documents based on which Berlin authorities determine eligibility this 6-month fictional certificate, as Ukrainian universities have been refusing to issue transcripts for international students and often holding their original high school diplomas and birth certificates ransom, and/or because documents got lost in the chaos of fleeing the war.

This new Berlin regulation leaves out third-country nationals who were living in Ukraine but were not students there.

And in other German states outside Berlin not even students get this possibility of a 6-month fictional certificate – which either way is far too short to meet the requirements for securing another residency permit (language proficiency, admission at a university or traineeship, over 10.000 euros in a blocked account, …)

This is why we continue to demand equal rights for all refugees and a secure residence permit that provides stability and open perspectives.

Sicherer Aufenthalt für alle!! No to Germany’s racist triage of refugees!

(*Oblique Collective is a Berlin-based filmmaking collective focusing on human rights, environment, and governance)