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Demosthenes's avatar

Do you think racism or xenophobia is a factor in how Ukrainian refugees are being received in Europe vs. those from Africa or the Middle East?

Asked by Demosthenes (14561points) March 4th, 2022

Huge debate about this raging on another site right now and I was wondering what all of you thought.

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16 Answers

rebbel's avatar

It’s blatantly obvious.
Even now, where the refugees that flee Ukraine are so well supported, welcomed in neighbouring countries, and in EU countries, there are reports of non-Ukrainians (most of which have a colored skin) being sent back in line, or being flat-out refused to cross the border.

And don’t get me started about Syrian, Libian, Afghan, etc, refugees…

zenvelo's avatar

It is a factor, but a minor factor, not a huge one.

Western Europe has suffered from actions by Islamist extremists for many decades. Because of that, there has been resistance in many countries against accepting refugees from many of the Middle Eastern and North African countries.

Also, many people consider Russia’s attack on Ukraine as an attack on Europe in general so they have been more accepting. Since most of the refugees have gone to Poland, which is culturally a cousin to Ukraine, they are more accepting of them.

Demosthenes's avatar

It’s human nature to be more sympathetic to people who are “like you”. Ukrainians have more in common with other Europeans than Syrians and Libyans. That is going to, consciously or not, lead to more sympathy. That doesn’t mean it’s right. It is also true that Europeans have experienced more Islamic-inspired attacks, often from immigrants or children of immigrants (yet we’re the ones with the Muslim ban), so their wariness could be justified. Though one has to question how much fear of attack is just a front for a more basic “we don’t want those people here”.

I think it’s difficult to deny that racism factors into comments like those from a Bulgarian politician who stated outright that Ukrainian refugees should be treated better since they’re not like other refugees, they’re educated and civilized Europeans.

JLeslie's avatar

Seems like there is some racism. Maybe part of it was these people aren’t Ukraine citizens, not that I think it should matter.

What I don’t get is when Russia was lining up its military on the border, why didn’t all people who were in Ukraine temporarily leave? I understand it being really difficult to leave a country you have established a life in, like I have American friends who have dual citizenship and think about leaving the US with what has been happening here, it’s hard to decide when and leave your life, but an out of country student? Your own country would have to be really bad not to leave Ukraine a few weeks ago.

HP's avatar

You’re asking if it pays to be white in Europe?

JLeslie's avatar

Better sentence: all people on a temporary visa.

flutherother's avatar

1.3 million refugees have crossed the Ukraine border already and the numbers will go up to 4 and maybe even 7 million. What are we going to do with them? There is a lot of sympathy for them in Europe. We know they were living peaceful lives just like ourselves only a month ago before this madness began. When it ends, they would like to return to their homes in Ukraine and that is our hope also.

Most of the world’s refugees displaced abroad live in countries neighbouring their countries of origin. Syrian refugees are mostly found in Turkey, Venezuelan refugees in Columbia and Afghan refugees in Pakistan. Perhaps a majority of them would like to settle permanently in western countries but with over 80 million forcibly displaced people in the world this is not practicable.

HP's avatar

@flutherother Putin of course is happy to see as many people flee Ukraine as can be terrorized to pick up an go. The land and its resources will then be up for “distribution” to his supporters who remain. There is the additional bonus of swamping the West with the untold numbers of miserable destitute people. The threat of that almost by itself will be enough to force NATO’s hand. I’m beginning to suspect that civilization may not survive this one. Our luck may well be running out

Kropotkin's avatar

Of course. Just weeks ago Poland was letting Syrians freeze on the Belarussian border, and they’ve been one of the biggest opponents to offering asylum to refugees. Even now there’s reports of Africans and Indians being stopped from getting on trains and from crossing the border into Poland.

The media is also playing its role. If the refugees were caused by bombing from a NATO or allied country, the framing would be very different and far less sympathetic—as we often find with Syrian, Afghan, Libyan and Iraqi refugees. But in the case of Ukranians (many are leaving to avoid forced conscription, by the way) we’re told they’re “like us” and they’re “civilised”.

rebbel's avatar

@Kropotkin “Relatively” “civilised” was the quote (of the journalist reporting on the fight of the Ukrainians).

flutherother's avatar

@HP I think civilization ended when bombing civilians became a routine way of conducting wars. The Age of Chivalry is dead and buried deep. The future hardly bears thinking about.

HP's avatar

@flutherother, what we’ve seen so far may well be a picnic compared to what’s to come.

Blackberry's avatar

Of course, but the tyranny of the majority rules.

We can’t talk about it because it’s always gonna end in “stop blaming your problems on other people, I didn’t do anything, talk about something else because I’m uncomfortable.”

flutherother's avatar

@Kropotkin It is a very dirty business but we should remember that the Belarusian president, Alexander Lukashenko, organised the movement of asylum seekers from Syria, Afghanistan and Iraqi Kurdistan with the promise of a safe passage to Europe, apparently in reprisal for sanctions that Brussels had imposed on his regime. That’s what led to the scenes on the Polish border.

flutherother's avatar

@HP I fear you may be right and Russia will use its air power in Ukraine as it did in Syria to create a desert and call it peace.

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