Europe’s different approach to Ukrainian and Syrian refugees draws accusations of racism

They file into neighbouring international locations by the a whole lot of hundreds — refugees from Ukraine clutching youngsters in a single arm, belongings within the different. And so they’re being heartily welcomed, by leaders of nations corresponding to Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, Bulgaria, Moldova and Romania.

However whereas the hospitality has been applauded, it has additionally highlighted stark variations in therapy given to migrants and refugees from the Center East and Africa, notably Syrians who got here in 2015. Some amongst them say the language they’re listening to from leaders now welcoming refugees has been disturbing and hurtful.

“These should not the refugees we’re used to; these individuals are Europeans,” Bulgarian Prime Minister Kiril Petkov informed journalists earlier this week. “These individuals are clever. They’re educated individuals…. This isn’t the refugee wave we’ve got been used to, individuals we weren’t positive about their id, individuals with unclear pasts, who may have been even terrorists.

“In different phrases, there may be not a single European nation now which is afraid of the present wave of refugees.”

‘Racism and Islamophobia’

Syrian journalist Okba Mohammad says that assertion “mixes racism and Islamophobia.”

Mohammad fled his hometown of Daraa in 2018. He now lives in Spain and with different Syrian refugees based a bilingual journal in Arabic and Spanish. He described a way of déjà vu as he adopted occasions in Ukraine.

He additionally had sheltered underground to guard himself from Russian bombs. He additionally struggled to board an overcrowded bus to flee his city. He additionally was separated from his household on the border.

Indian ladies look forward to transport on the Medyka pedestrian border in Poland. Many refugees in japanese Europe are from India, Nigeria and different African international locations and have been working or learning in Ukraine when the struggle broke out. (Wojtek Radwanski/AFP/Getty Pictures)

“A refugee is a refugee, whether or not European, African or Asian,” Mohammad stated.

The change in tone of a few of Europe’s leaders who up to now have expressed among the many most excessive anti-migration views within the bloc has been hanging. They’ve shifted from “We aren’t going to let anybody in” to “We’re letting everybody in.”

These feedback have been made solely three months aside by Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban. The primary quote is from statements he made in December when he was addressing migrants and refugees from the Center East and Africa. The second from feedback made this week addressing individuals from Ukraine.

Some journalists, too, are being criticized for descriptions of Ukrainian refugees.

A refugee fleeing from Ukraine stands together with her canine at Nyugati station in Budapest, Hungary, on Monday. (Marton Monus/Reuters)

“These are affluent, middle-class individuals,” an Al Jazeera English tv presenter stated. “These should not clearly refugees making an attempt to get away from areas within the Center East … in North Africa. They seem like any European household that you’d dwell subsequent door to.”

The channel issued an apology saying the feedback have been insensitive and irresponsible.

CBS information apologized after certainly one of its correspondents stated the battle in Kyiv wasn’t “like Iraq or Afghanistan that has seen battle raging for many years. This can be a comparatively civilized, comparatively European” metropolis.

Reviews of Nigerians, Indians and Lebanese caught at borders

As an increasing number of individuals scrambled to flee Ukraine, a number of stories emerged of residents, together with Nigerians, Indians and Lebanese, getting caught at borders. Not like Ukrainians, many non-Europeans want visas to get into neighbouring international locations. Embassies all over the world have been scrambling to help their residents in getting by means of.

Movies shared on social media underneath the hashtag #AfricansinUkraine allegedly confirmed African college students being saved from boarding trains out of Ukraine to create space for Ukrainians.

The African Union stated Monday that everybody has the appropriate to cross worldwide borders to flee battle. The continental physique stated “stories that Africans are singled out for unacceptable dissimilar therapy can be shockingly racist and in breach of worldwide legislation.”

It urged all international locations to “present the identical empathy and assist to all individuals fleeing struggle however their racial id.”

PHOTOS | Ukrainians fleeing struggle face freezing situations, days-long lineups at borders:

Polish UN Ambassador Krzysztof Szczerski stated on the Common Meeting on Monday that assertions of race- or religion-based discrimination at Poland’s border are “a whole lie and a horrible insult to us.”

“The nationals of all international locations who suffered from Russian aggression or whose life is in danger can search shelter in my nation,” he stated.

Szczerski stated individuals of some 125 nationalities had been admitted to Poland on Monday morning from Ukraine, together with Ukrainian, Uzbek, Nigerian, Indian, Moroccan, Pakistani, Afghan, Belarusian, Algerian and extra. Total, he stated, 300,000 individuals have arrived through the disaster.

Hostility towards Syrian refugees in Europe

When over 1,000,000 individuals crossed into Europe in 2015, assist for refugees fleeing wars in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan was comparatively excessive at first. There have been additionally moments of hostility — corresponding to when a Hungarian camerawoman was filmed kicking and probably tripping migrants alongside the nation’s border with Serbia.

Nonetheless, again then, Germany’s then chancellor, Angela Merkel, famously stated “Wir schaffen das” (“We are able to do it”), and the Swedish prime minister urged residents to “open your hearts” to refugees.

Volunteers gathered on Greek seashores to rescue exhausted households crossing on boats from Turkey. In Germany, they have been greeted with applause at prepare and bus stations.

However the heat welcome quickly ended after EU nations disagreed over how one can share accountability, with the primary pushback coming from Central European international locations corresponding to Hungary and Poland. One after the other, governments throughout Europe toughened migration and asylum insurance policies, incomes the nickname “Fortress Europe.”

Simply final week, the UN Excessive Commissioner for Refugees denounced the growing “violence and severe human rights violations” throughout European borders, particularly pointing the finger at Greece.

Final 12 months, a whole lot of individuals, primarily from Iraq and Syria but in addition from Africa, have been left stranded in a no man’s land between Poland and Belarus because the EU accused Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko of luring hundreds of foreigners to his nation’s borders in retaliation for sanctions. On the time, Poland blocked entry to help teams and journalists. Greater than 15 individuals died within the chilly.

Polish navy police close to Kuznica guarding the border towards an inflow of migrants from the Center East and Africa who have been making an attempt to cross over from Belarus on Nov. 11, 2021. The reception for Ukrainians fleeing struggle of their dwelling nation has been starkly completely different, say observers. (Handout/Irek Dorozanski/DWOT/Reuters)

‘Deeply embedded racism’

In the meantime, within the Mediterranean, the European Union has been criticized for paying Libya to intercept migrants making an attempt to achieve its shores, serving to to return them to abusive and sometimes lethal detention centres.

“There isn’t any method to keep away from questions across the deeply embedded racism of European migration insurance policies once we see how completely different the reactions of nationwide governments and EU elites are to the individuals making an attempt to achieve Europe,” Lena Karamanidou, an impartial migration and asylum researcher in Greece, wrote on Twitter.

Jeff Crisp, a former head of coverage, improvement and analysis at UNHCR, agreed that race and faith influenced therapy of refugees.

“International locations that had been actually destructive on the refugee challenge and have made it very troublesome for the EU to develop coherent refugee coverage during the last decade, immediately come ahead with a way more constructive response,” Crisp stated.

WATCH | Yuliya Sotska describes how she and her household fled explosions in Vasylkiv: 

Ukrainian-Canadian household flees explosions close to Kyiv

Ukrainian-Canadian Yuliya Sotska describes how her household fled their dwelling in Vasylkiv, outdoors Kyiv, to flee explosions and take shelter farther west. She says she’s grateful to Canada and hopes for peace. ‘Putin must be stopped,’ she stated. 7:04

A lot of Orban’s opposition to migration is predicated on his perception that to “protect cultural homogeneity and ethnic homogeneity,” Hungary shouldn’t settle for refugees from completely different cultures and completely different religions.

Members of Poland’s conservative nationalist ruling occasion have echoed Orban’s considering, saying they wish to defend Poland’s id as a Christian nation and assure its safety.

These arguments haven’t been utilized to their Ukrainian neighbours, with whom they share historic and cultural ties. Elements of Ukraine right now have been as soon as additionally elements of Poland and Hungary. Over one million Ukrainians dwell and work in Poland and a whole lot of hundreds extra are scattered throughout Europe. Some 150,000 ethnic Hungarians additionally dwell in Western Ukraine, lots of whom have Hungarian passports.

Folks clamour to board a bus sure for a refugee centre in Przemysl, Poland, on Monday. (Bryan Woolston/Reuters)

“It’s not fully unnatural for individuals to really feel extra comfy with individuals who come from close by, who converse the [similar] language or have a [similar] tradition,” Crisp stated.

In Poland, Ruchir Kataria, an Indian volunteer, informed The Related Press on Sunday that his compatriots acquired caught on the Ukrainian aspect of the border crossing into Medyka, Poland. In Ukraine, they have been initially informed to go to Romania, a whole lot of kilometres away, he stated, after that they had already made lengthy journeys on foot to the border, not consuming for 3 days. Lastly, on Monday they acquired by means of.

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