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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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