Countries hostile to refugees previously embraced Ukrainians

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Countries hostile to refugees previously embraced Ukrainians

As the war in Ukraine triggers a mass exodus of refugees, countries have opened their doors to Ukrainians, offering a warm welcome that has historically been denied by other populations fleeing conflict around the world. Has been done.

The contrast grew more intense this week, when the Greek government was accused of turning away desperate Syrian asylum seekers, even as it attempted to be hospitable to asylum seekers escaping violence in Ukraine .

The Greek human rights organization Humanrights360 said in an interview on Thursday that about 30. a group of Syrian refugeeMany, including children, were stranded for several days on a small island in the Avros River, which separates Greece and Turkey. According to the group, one of the children has gone missing, while a pregnant woman had suffered bleeding. The organization said Thursday was their fifth day, the night temperature was below zero.

Their plight marked a sharp contrast to Greece’s embrace of Ukrainian refugees since Russia’s invasion of the country. On Wednesday, Greece’s President Katerina Sakellaropoulou visited Ukrainian children at a Ukrainian cultural center in Athens, as authorities scramble to enroll hundreds of children in the Greek school system. He said the country had a “duty to show our active solidarity”.

At least two and a half million Ukrainians have fled their country in what the United Nations called the fastest growing refugee crisis since World War II.

Greece’s Minister of Migration, Notice Mitarachi, pointed to a “great difference” between displaced Ukrainians and asylum seekers from other countries on Wednesday.

“Ukrainian refugees are facing war in a country that borders the European Union,” he explained to the Greek parliament, adding that many other migrants enter the bloc “illegally” and were banned by the government “in 10 of 7 are not considered refugees”.

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Some human rights advocates have pointed to the human double standard in which Europe prioritizes helping white Christians over helping others fleeing war and conflict.

“The wonderful display of solidarity with Ukrainian refugees is in stark contrast to the treatment of migrants and refugees from other parts of the world, most of whom are brown and black,” Judith Sunderland, an associate director for Europe and Central Asia for Human Rights Watch, said. Said in an interview. “Europe is doing the right thing this time but this tremendous empathy and solidarity should be extended to everyone in need.”

Other European leaders have also described Ukrainian refugees as less in danger and more deserving of help than others.

Denmark, which has some of the toughest anti-immigration laws in Europe, passed a law on Wednesday that grants Ukrainian refugees expedited residence and work permits, giving them access to education and health care system. The law came as Syrian asylum seekers have been languishing in deportation centers in Denmark for months after the country began revoking their residence permits in 2019.

In 2016, when many refugees fled to Europe from conflicts in the Middle East and Africa, Denmark passed a law requiring newly arrived refugees to hand over valuables, including jewelry and gold, to help pay for their stay in the country. Was. Refugees from Ukraine are exempted from that law.

The Danish government has entered into an agreement with local authorities with the aim of integrating asylum seekers into Danish communities within four days of being granted a temporary residence permit.

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“It’s going to go very fast. Within a few weeks many Danes will have a new ally, a new neighbor or a new classmate,” Danish immigration minister Mattias Tesfaye said on Danish television.

The reception of Ukrainian refugees in countries such as Greece, Denmark, Poland and Hungary, which in the past have been openly hostile to refugees, marks a significant change from the European refugee crisis in 2015 when more than one million refugees and migrants influx from the Middle East. and an anti-immigrant backlash in Europe to avoid war and conflict in Africa, and help far-right parties railing against the perceived threat of Islam.

Poland, whose ruling right-wing Law and Justice party came to power in 2015 at the height of Europe’s migrant crisis, after running a campaign that inspired the chorus of “Poland for Poles”, took in the largest number of Ukrainian refugees. have taken. Hungary, whose staunch prime minister, Viktor Orban, previously built a border fence along the Hungarian-Serbian border to help keep refugees out, has also opened the country’s borders to Ukrainians.

According to Humanrights360, the small island of the Avros River separating Greece and Turkey where Syrians are trapped has been disputed by Turkey in the past. The organization said the island was in Greek territory, and argued that Greece should take the migrants. After reports about stranded Syrian refugees, Greek police said on Thursday they had launched a search But the migrants were not found.

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