Middle East sympathizes with refugees from Ukraine

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Middle East sympathizes with refugees from Ukraine

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – The spectacle of a mass flight out of Ukraine resonated deeply in the Middle East on Saturday, with many taking to social media to express their sympathy and the plight of those now fleeing their homes. are forced to. A Russian military offensive.

But in a region plagued by seemingly endless wars, sympathy was fueled by the bitterness of some who saw European countries taking a more compassionate stance toward Ukrainians, as Arabs and Muslims in recent years Were trying desperately to reach the safety of the migrants. from the shores of Europe.

Photos of devastated cities from Syria and Iraq to Libya and Yemen broadcast onlineWith memes and remarks accusing Western democracies of inciting violence and evading responsibility and imposing double standards, especially destabilizing these countries in the treatment of refugees.

As neighboring European countries swiftly opened their borders to thousands of Ukrainians, many social media users were quick to point out how refugees from the Middle East had faced harsh reception.

“Imagine the human face of refugees from Ukraine is also seen on refugees from MENA,” tweeted Lena Zaim, a communications manager from Lebanon, referring to the Middle East and North Africa region. “Imagine sovereignty and dignity as human rights that are not bound by race or nationality.”

Some commentators did not acknowledge that some European countries have been liberal in resettling Middle Eastern migrants. A wave of asylum seekers from the wars in Syria and Iraq made their way into Europe in 2015 and 2016, and the European Union took more than a million refugees, most of them Syrians, to Germany in that two-year period. Bulk received.

But Arab critics said that Muslims and migrants from Arab countries were often perceived as a threat, rejected and sometimes faced force and violence as they tried to enter Europe.

“What is happening in Ukraine is incredibly sad and heartbreaking to watch,” said researcher Rana Khoury, a Syrian-American postdoctoral associate who focuses on the study of war and displacement at Princeton University. “But like many others, I also saw how these same countries that have created so many barriers for refugees fleeing conflicts in the Middle East open their borders to Ukrainians.”

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In November, Polish security forces beat up migrants from the Middle East and Afghanistan with batons as they tried to cross the border.

In contrast, refugees arriving from Ukraine at the Polish border in the past few days were greeted with smiles, hot drinks and taken to railway stations.

Ayman Mohyaldin, an Egyptian-American television host on MSNBC with hundreds of thousands of followers on social media, said in a Twitter post, “So what you’re saying is that Europe knows what’s going to come humanely and mercifully big and sudden.” How are people welcomed. Refugees fleeing the war?”

Unlike Middle Eastern migrants, Ukrainians are allowed to enter EU countries without a visa. And about a million already live in Poland.

Ms Khoury acknowledged the generosity of some European countries, such as Germany, in taking on Middle Eastern migrants, saying she saw a clear bias.

“These are justifications that somehow war and violence are endemic to the Middle East in a way that they are not to Europe,” he said, adding that Middle Eastern and African countries with little potential “host many more refugees.” left to do.” Time.”

Many Syrians who opposed the government of President Bashar al-Assad viewed the invasion of Ukraine with particular interest, having personally experienced Russian military intervention in their country that destroyed cities and displaced large numbers of people. done.

Some posted pictures on social media of lines of cars fleeing from the front by Russian-backed Syrian forces two years ago, next to pictures of lines of cars fleeing from the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

More than 5.6 million Syrian refugees live in the Middle East, most of them in Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan. Of those who made it to Europe, the most effectively forced their way, crossing the Mediterranean on cruiser boats that sometimes sank, killing their passengers.

Once in Europe, many people found that countries sought to close their borders.

During the 10-year war in Syria, the United States let go about 22,000 Syrian refugees.

Jomana Qaddour, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council that focuses on Syria, said there is a tendency to blame Middle Eastern violence on the region’s culture.

On Saturday, a clip comparing Ukraine with two Muslim-majority countries ravaged by war appeared to be viral, drawing criticism.

Describing the flight of thousands of Ukrainians, a CBS reporter expressed a sense of shock, saying, “But this is not a place with all due respect, like Iraq or Afghanistan, where conflict has been going on for decades.”

Reporter, Charlie D’Agata, He described the scenes he had seen taking place in a “relatively civilized, relatively European” city.

hwaida saadiAnd Ben Hubbard contributed reporting from Beirut and nada rashwan from Cairo.

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