For Ukrainian refugees, Europe opens closed doors for others
WASHINGTON: Russia’s attack on Ukraine has forced thousands of people out of their homes and fleeing across the border to escape violence. But unlike the refugees who have plagued Europe over the past decade, they are being welcomed.
Countries that have resisted taking refugees from wars in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan for years are now opening their doors to Ukrainians as Russian forces launch a nationwide military offensive. According to UN estimates, perhaps 100,000 Ukrainians have already left their homes, and at least half of them have crowded trains, jammed highways or walked to cross their country’s borders. Which officials have warned could become the world’s next refugee crisis.
UN and US officials described their strong diplomatic pressure for Ukraine’s neighbors and other European countries to respond to the need ahead. White House press secretary Jen Psaki said on Thursday that President Biden is “definitely ready” to accept refugees from Ukraine, but added that most of them would probably prefer to stay in Europe so that they can once more easily be able to return home fight over.
“Heartfelt thanks to the governments and peoples of countries for keeping their borders open and welcoming refugees,” said Filippo Grandi, the head of the UN refugee agency. He warned that “many more” Ukrainians were moving towards the borders.
That means thousands will end up in countries led by nationalist governments that have been reluctant to welcome or block refugees in past crises.
In Poland, government officials with the help of American soldiers and diplomats have set up processing centers for Ukrainian, “Anyone fleeing a bomb with Russian rifles can count on the support of the Polish state,” Polish Interior Minister Mariusz Kaminski told reporters on Thursday. His government is spending hundreds of millions of dollars on a border wall, a project that began after refugees and migrants from the Middle East tried to reach the country last year but ended in neighboring Belarus.
The military in Hungary is allowing in Ukrainians through parts of the border that were closed. Hungary’s hardline prime minister, Viktor Orbán, has previously described the refugees as a threat to his country, and his government has been accused of caged and starved.
Further west, Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehmer said that in light of the crisis in Ukraine “we will certainly take refugees if necessary”. As recently as last fall, when he was serving as interior minister, Mr Nehmer sought to block some Afghans seeking asylum after the Taliban overthrew the government in Kabul.
“It is different in Ukraine than in countries like Afghanistan,” he was quoted during an interview on a national TV programme. “We’re talking about helping the neighborhood.”
Mr Nehamer also said that the number of Ukrainians seeking help is expected to be relatively small. At least 1.3 million people – mostly from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan – applied for asylum in 2015 in Europe, widely regarded as the worst refugee crisis since World War II, according to the national budget. and creates a backlash of political nationalism across countries. Continent.
Some estimates estimate that at least one million refugees will flee Ukraine because of the Russian invasion. US Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield said Thursday that the fighting could “uproot five million people, putting pressure on Ukraine’s neighbours.”
Diplomats and experts said European states willing to take in Ukrainians are trying to highlight Russian aggression against civilians by offering a somewhat humanitarian response. Serena Parekh, professor and director of Northeastern University in Boston, said: “If you think of the refugee crisis as one of Putin’s tools to destabilize the West, a calm, efficient, systematic response is actually a good rebuke. Is.” of its politics, philosophy and economics programme.
“On the other hand,” said Ms. Parekh, who has written extensively about the refugees, “it is not difficult to see that Ukrainians are white, mostly Christian and European. And so in a sense, the xenophobia that has really taken place over the last 10 years. The U.S., especially those born after 2015, are not acting in this crisis the way it has for refugees from the Middle East and Africa.”
The Biden administration is also facing calls to take on Ukrainian refugees, the same way it granted residency or humanitarian parole to more than 75,000 Afghans when the Taliban seized power in August.
At least at this time, it is unlikely that the United States will offer a humanitarian parole program for Ukrainians that exceeds what is currently allowed for the total number of refugee admissions for the current fiscal year. This year the number is limited to 125,000 – including 10,000 refugees from Europe and Central Asia. The guidelines set aside another 10,000 slots for refugees from any part of the world, as regional emergencies warrant.
Ms Saki did not comment when asked by a reporter whether the administration would provide temporary residence protection to Ukrainian students, workers and others, known as TPS, to ensure that their legal visas expire. But they are not deported. ,
Understand Russia’s attack on Ukraine
What is at the root of this attack? Russia considers Ukraine to be within its natural sphere of influence, and it has been alarmed by Ukraine’s proximity to the West and the possibility of the country joining NATO or the European Union. While Ukraine is part of neither, it receives financial and military aid from the United States and Europe.
“The war in Ukraine is exactly the kind of crisis TPS was created for – to allow people to live and work in the United States when they are unable to return home safely,” Senator Bob Menendez, New Jersey of the Democrats and Chairman of the Committee on Foreign Relations, said thursday night,
Ms. Saki said the United States had sent an estimated $52 million in humanitarian aid to Ukraine last year to help people, mostly in the eastern Donbass region, where the current war is a slow-burning conflict between Ukraine’s military and Russian Started as – Supported separatists in 2014. Even before the attack last week, nearly 1.5 million people were forced to fight from their homes.
Additionally, the US Agency for International Development sent a team of disaster experts to Poland last week to assess the demand for aid in the region – including water, food, shelter, medicine and other supplies – and determine its delivery. to coordinate. Hours after the invasion began, the United Nations announced that it would use $20 million in emergency funds for humanitarian aid to Ukrainians, mostly in the Donbass region.
A European diplomat, who has been closely watching the flow of refugees from Ukraine, said neighboring countries could also feel the stretch of history in welcoming people in danger as a direct result of Russia’s invasions. For example, the Soviet crackdown on the Hungarian Uprising in 1956 resulted in 200,000 refugees, most of whom fled to Austria before settling in dozens of countries in Europe. Between 80,000 and 100,000 people – and perhaps even more – left Czechoslovakia in 1968 to escape the Soviet invasion, which was launched to quell the pro-democracy Prague Spring protests.
In both cases, the United States sent aid to European countries to help settle the refugees and, in the Hungarian crisis, “in a matter of months, there were no more refugees – they had found a permanent home,” Ms. Parekh said.
This was largely the result of the United States working with European states to rehabilitate Hungary, she said, calling the effort “historically an exception”.
“It was a similar thing – people running away from our Russian enemy – that inspired us,” she said.
#Ukrainian #refugees #Europe #opens #closed #doors