The Ukrainian War and the “Good” Refugee – OpEd – Eurasia Review


In the history of welcoming refugees, countries have shown more than an erratic trend. Universal human characteristics have often been neglected in favor of the particular: race, cultural habits, religion. Even countries of immigration, such as the United States and Australia, have had their xenophobic twists on who to accept, whether they are victims of pogroms, war crimes, genocide or famine.

The Russian attack on Ukraine has already produced hundreds of thousands of refugees. As of March 2, a week into the war, an estimated 874,000 people have left Ukraine. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) estimates that up to four million people could leave, while the European Union adds another three million to this figure.

This is already producing a growing capital of hypocrisy on the part of host States which have shown a deep reluctance to accept refugees from other origins and from other conflicts. Tellingly, some of these conflicts have also been the harmful result of campaigns or interventions by Western states.

Offerings of generosity – at least to fair-minded Ukrainians – are everywhere. Poland, which will be an important receiving and transit country for many Ukrainians, pays great attention to arrivals as they cross the border. They find themselves playing the moral priests of salvation.

A UNHCR report noted facilities at various border crossings stocked with “food, water, clothing, sleeping bags, shoes, blankets, diapers and sanitary items for people arriving with only what they can carry”. Anna Dąbrowska, leader of Homo Faber, notes the sentiment. “Our two peoples have always had close relations… Of course, we help our neighbours!

This solidarity has been selective. Those of African and Middle Eastern descent faced quite different treatment at the border – if and when they got there. The number of stories of obstruction and violence both inside Ukraine and at the border continues to grow.

Polish authorities have also been accused of explicitly targeting African students by denying them entry in preference to Ukrainians, although the Polish ambassador to the UN told the General Assembly on February 28 that this was “a complete lie and a terrible insult to us”. According to Krzysztof Szczerski, no fewer than 125 Ukrainian nationalities have been admitted to Poland.

Skeptics have every reason to be dubious. Just last year, Interior Minister Mariusz Kamiński and National Defense Minister Mariusz Błaszczak gave a very different impression of the welcome, suggesting that swarthy refugees – those from the Middle East, in particular – were immoral types tending to bestiality. . These arrivals have also been accused of being weapons used by the Lukashenko regime in Belarus as part of a “hybrid warfare” program. President Adrzej Duda has also signed a bill to build what has been described as “a high-tech barrier on the border with Belarus to guard against an influx of irregular migrants”.

It’s all well and good to accuse the Russians of misinformation, but the Polish authorities have been quick to sow their own sordid variants, targeting vulnerable newcomers and demonizing them in the process. In 2021, those fleeing Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq and Yemen found themselves stranded by the hundreds in the frozen woods along the Polish-Belarusian border. Eight individuals perished.

In this cruel farce of inhumanity, the European Union, together with Poland and the Baltic States, especially Lithuania, must bear the responsibility. European Council President Charles Michel openly called Lukashenko’s shaping of the irregular arrivals a “hybrid attack, brutal attack, violent attack and shameful attack”. It makes it easier to worry less about it.

Globally, the war in Ukraine now gives countries a chance to be very moral about law type of refugee. They flee the ravages and wickedness of the Russian bear, the tyrant of history; this is an opportunity to display more accommodating colors. If nothing else, it also provides entertaining cover for the more brutal policies used against other less desirable irregular arrivals.

It’s a strategy that works, with media like USA today spreading amnesiac articles claiming that Ukrainian families, in fighting the “murderous Putin regime”, were engaged in a “battle…for life and death; there is no time for debates about political correctness.

Western European countries also show a different face from those fleeing Ukraine. The UK, which is seeking to adopt an Australian version of refugee treatment – the use of remote offshore islands and third countries, long periods of detention and the frustration of asylum claims – has now opened its arms to 200,000 Ukrainian refugees.

Faraway Australia, whose participation in the illegal war against Iraq produced refugees and asylum seekers who would eventually head down under, is now offering to accept more Ukrainian refugees and “accelerate” their requests. The same politicians speak approvingly of a system that imprisons asylum seekers and refugees indefinitely in Pacific outposts, promising never to resettle them in Australia. The subtext here is that these kinds – the Behrouz Boochani types – deserve it.

In the words of the Asylum Seekers Resource Center (ASRC), “the Morrison government has presided over the dismantling of refugee reception in Australia, leaving Australia unable to respond adequately to emergencies, 2022” marking the lowest number of refugee welcomes in nearly 50 years.” Granted, the global pandemic hasn’t helped matters, but COVID-19 hasn’t done much in terms of the precipitous decline of places Australia’s refugee admission cap has been lowered from 18,750 in 2018-19 to 13,750 in 2020-21.

The reduction in these places has taken place despite Canberra’s role in a series of conflicts that have fueled the global refugee crisis. Australia’s failure in Afghanistan, and its jeopardizing hundreds of local translators and security personnel, has seen only a half-hearted effort to open the doors. The effort was characterized by incompetence and poorly deployed resources.

The sad reality of refugee policy is that governments always make choices and display preferences. “Talking about moving certain apps ‘to the top of the pile’ pits the most vulnerable against each other,” said critical ASRC founder Kon Karapanagiotidis. “It is a moral aberration and completely out of step with the Australian public.”

Unfortunately, the good people at CURC misinterpret public opinion. It is an election year; accepting Ukrainian refugees will be seen as good policy, just as the indefinite detention of boat arrivals from impoverished, war-torn lands – many Muslim-majority states affected by Western state policies – will continue to be praised .


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