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Syrian & Ukrainian Refugees in Europe - An Unfortunate Comparison

Updated: Dec 5, 2022

Racism? Islamophobia? Stereotypes? Hate and Discrimination?


The Syrian refugee crisis started in 2011, and since then, more than 6 million Syrians have become refugees, out of which over 1 million are in Europe. There have been stories of bad treatment and discrimination despite the "efforts and programs" to facilitate the Syrian refugees mentioned on the websites of the European governments.

The Ukrainian refugees emerged after the major escalation of the Russo-Ukrainian war in February 2022. 7.8 million Ukrainian refugees have dispersed around Europe in the past couple of months and what we have seen is a sympathetic rescue response from all over Europe.


While the fact that Ukrainians are also victims of war and must be helped stands, one fails not to question the "double standards" in the treatment of Syrian or other Middle Eastern refugees and Ukrainian refugees.



On the one hand, you would see the story of a Sudanese man being beaten up and left to die by the border guards in Poland. On the other hand, you would see a video clip of Ukrainian refugee families weeping because of all the support they are getting from the people and government of Poland.

The EU activated a law, the "Temporary Protection Directive," which allows Ukrainians to reside, access healthcare, work, or study, and it has been implemented. However, Syrian refugees have never benefitted from such laws, not even in 2015's major refugee crisis.

Syrians are labeled as terrorists, backward people, and a threat to the job opportunities of the nationals. Practicing Islam is made complex, and women wearing hijabs just become much more vulnerable.

Is this because of a different culture, religion, race, ethnicity, and language? Because Ukrainians have all these things similar to Europeans, but Syrians don’t. One can also consider the political interests, propaganda, and years of wars in the Middle East waged by these Western nations, which leads to particular public sentiments. These sentiments can then be categorized as internalized disapproval, racism, Islamophobia, xenophobia, etc. which shapes the experiences and lives of these refugees, including their access to education.





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All of my comments still were based on national educational conflict. However, the debate is different regarding international double standards incorporated by these great powers. The discrimination based on religion and the apparent outlook looks pretty odd, referring to the "standards" of these "developed nations." Ethnical discrimination has led Syrian refugees to suffer economically, emotionally, and physically. Moreover, a significant natural effect has been put on education. The so-called liberalist should provide their refugees with essential commodities and rights of education. The silence of other major countries over the issue also defines the global power structure, which is profoundly interlinked and supports each other on mutual interests. While on the other hand, my attention was drawn to Afghanistan refugees and…

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Very important!


The dichotomy of the sympathy is grossly evident. Ukraine's neighbors have responded with an outpouring of public and political support for the refugees, when Syrians have been alienated for the longest time. Political leaders publicly announced that refugees from Ukraine are welcome and countries have been preparing to receive refugees on their borders with teams of volunteers handing out food, water, clothing, and medicines.

Upon doing some research I even found out that across Europe, free public transport and phone communication is being provided for Ukrainian refugees. The EU is proposing to reactivate the Temporary Protection Directive, introduced in the 1990s to manage large-scale refugee movements during the Balkans crisis. This scheme would essentially mean that refugees from…


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the sympathetic response for one country while discrimination towards another truly shows the hypocrisy of these countries, while also highlighting their ideologies/narratives about different races, ethnicities, etc. and about your point about EU considering to reactivate the Temporary Protection Directive, they have actually reactivated it already and as mentioned in you comment and my post as well, this law has provided access to housing, education, and jobs to Ukrainian refugees. and the Syrian refugees continue to try to access basic facilities in the same host countries.

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The double standards are truly sickening and as Dania pointed out as well, a lot of the decisions taken are in view of the idea of Islamophobia. Another argument for European countries is that Ukraine is significantly closer to them than Syria is, and so the cost of entertaining refugees is lower. However, I feel like the different treatment stems mainly from cultural differences, and the pre existing norm of resistance towards immigrants from the middle east region. The discrimination or racism could simply be pointed towards the sad idea that some countries are simply more important than others, and the proof is the media coverage attributed to them.

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i agree that transportation for Ukrainians is more accessible and less costly than the Syrians, but this is not an acceptable reason for the discrimination and double standards toward Syrians. and suppose the host countries were to provide help to refugees without such biases, the fact that it's more difficult and dangerous for Syrians to come to Europe. In that case, they should be allocating enough resources to accommodate them. and yes, I also agree that the treatment difference stems from different races, religions, languages, etc., which media outlets also propagate.

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Different treatments of refugees from separate regions clearly show the double standards that Europeans hold and at the same time your blog also highlights how multiple factors can result in these standards. I believe Islamophobia plays a major role because the western nations already consider Muslims dangerous and when they come to them in large numbers, they feel greatly threatened by them. Had they not had a Muslims identity attached to them, perhaps they would not have felt this level of discrimination. This identity becomes a hurdle as they try to settle into their new environment. Lastly, even though Europeans were open to accepting Ukrainian refugees, but did they not face any resistance at all because they do not necessarily…

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yes, islamophobia is one of the main reasons for discriminatory behavior, intertwined with racism and a superiority complex when they see people who do not have white skin, blonde hair, blue eyes, and the same culture.

and about your question, I agree there might have been a language barrier between Ukrainians and English-speaking Europeans. Still, we must see that many European nations also don't speak English. for example, France has french, and Germany has german as their local language. furthermore, I do think that since their culture, race, and general outlook is the same, a language barrier might be insignificant in their interaction. but if you compare it to the Syrian case, many other factors differ. therefore, I do not…

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I would like to add this racism, discrimination and Islamophobia is publicly propagated by world leaders as the Bulgarian Prime Minister Kiril Petkov recently dreww a distinct line between the two groups, justifying differential treatment:

"These are not the refugees we are used to…These people are Europeans…These people are intelligent, they are educated people…This is not the refugee wave we have been used to, people we were not sure about their identity, people with unclear pasts, who could have been even terrorists."

Why is it that the international community, especially organizations committed to peace and inclusion, does not condemn this blatant discrimination against Middle Eastern refugees? Where is the effort from this faction to ensure that the human rights of…

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thank you for your input, and I fully agree with the point you have raised. the international community's silence and barely any efforts to accommodate and facilitate Middle Eastern refugees speak volumes against their hypocrisy as well. But what is also interesting to note is that this very treatment with Syrian or other Middle Eastern refugees comes from European nations that are some of the most influential international actors. and many other influential countries and non-government organizations are allies to Europe and remain silent, which is sad and problematic but also true.

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