Middle East sympathizes with Ukrainian refugees

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – The spectacle of a mass flight out of Ukraine resonated deeply across the Middle East on Saturday, with ma...


DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – The spectacle of a mass flight out of Ukraine resonated deeply across the Middle East on Saturday, with many taking to social media to express sympathy and sympathy for those now forced to flee their homes amid a Russian military invasion.

But in a region that has been plagued by seemingly endless wars, empathy was tinged with bitterness from some who saw European nations take a more compassionate stance towards Ukrainians than they had made in recent years towards Arab and Muslim migrants desperately trying to reach safety. from the coasts of Europe.

Images of ravaged cities from Syria and Iraq to Libya and Yemen streamed onlinewith memes and comments accusing Western democracies of fueling violence and destabilizing these countries while evading accountability and applying double standards, especially in their treatment of refugees.

As neighboring European countries quickly opened their borders to tens of thousands of Ukrainians, many social media users were quick to point out how refugees from the Middle East had been given a harsher reception.

“Imagine that the human face of Ukrainian refugees can also be seen on refugees from the MENA region,” Lina Zhaim, Lebanon’s head of communications, tweeted, referring to the Middle East and North Africa region. “Imagine sovereignty and dignity as human rights unbound by race or nationality.”

Many commentators have acknowledged that some European countries have been generous in resettling migrants from the Middle East. A wave of asylum seekers from the wars in Syria and Iraq made their way to Europe in 2015 and 2016 and the European Union welcomed more than one million refugees during this two-year period, the most of them Syrians, with Germany receiving the bulk.

But Arab critics said migrants from Muslim and Arab countries were often seen as a threat, shunned and sometimes faced with force and violence as they attempted to enter Europe.

“What is happening in Ukraine is incredibly tragic and heartbreaking to watch,” said Rana Khoury, a Syrian-American postdoctoral fellow who focuses on the study of war and displacement at Princeton University. “But like many others, I have also seen how these same countries that have put so many obstacles in the way of refugees fleeing conflict in the Middle East are opening their borders to Ukrainians.”

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

On the other hand, the refugees who arrived from Ukraine at the Polish border in recent days have been welcomed with smiles, hot drinks and transported to the stations.

Ayman Mohyeldin, an Egyptian-American TV host on MSNBC with hundreds of thousands of social media followers, said in a post on Twitter: “So what you’re saying is Europe knows how to welcome with humanity and compassion a large and sudden influx of refugees fleeing war?

Unlike migrants from the Middle East, Ukrainians are allowed to enter European Union countries without a visa. And almost a million already live in Poland.

Ms Khoury, while acknowledging the generosity of some European countries like Germany in taking in migrants from the Middle East, said she saw an apparent bias in this.

“There are these justifications that war and violence are somehow endemic in the Middle East in a way that they are not in Europe,” she said, adding that countries in the Middle East East and Africa with far less capacity are left to accommodate “many more refugees all the time.”

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

Some posted images on social media of lines of cars fleeing an advance by Russian-backed Syrian forces two years ago, alongside pictures of lines of cars fleeing the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

More … than 5.6 million Syrian refugees remain in the Middle East, mostly in Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan. Of those that arrived in Europe, the most effective entered by force, crossing the Mediterranean on flimsy boats that sometimes sank, killing their passengers.

Once in Europe, many found that countries were looking to close their borders.

During the 10 years of war in Syria, the United States has taken in approximately 22,000 Syrian refugees.

Jomana Qaddour, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council who focuses on Syria, said there was a tendency to blame violence in the Middle East on the region’s culture.

On Saturday, a clip pitting Ukraine against two war-ravaged predominantly Muslim countries went viral, sparking a firestorm of criticism.

Describing the flight of tens 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 which has seen conflict rage for decades”.

The journalist, Charlie D’Agata, went on to describe the scenes he witnessed in a “relatively civilized, relatively European” town.

Hwaida Saadand Ben Hubbard contributed reporting from Beirut and Nada Rashwan from Cairo.



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Newsrust - US Top News: Middle East sympathizes with Ukrainian refugees
Middle East sympathizes with Ukrainian refugees
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