Insights from Around the World: UNHCR on the Mistreatment of non-European Refugees; and The Guardian on the Racist Coverage of Ukraine

Compiled by MALIK MERCHANT

Rockets have been “raining down” on Ukraine’s cities and hundreds of people have been killed or injured since the Russian military offensive began. On March 1, 2022, the UN Secretary-General launched a $1.7 billion flash appeal to provide urgently-needed assistance. In this photo, spent pieces of a rocket lie next to a playground, with military operations ongoing in Kyiv, Ukraine. Photo: © UNICEF/Andrii Marienko/UNIAN

“….the very concept of providing refuge is not and should not be based on factors such as physical proximity or skin color, and for a very good reason. If our sympathy is activated only for welcoming people who look like us or pray like us, then we are doomed to replicate the very sort of narrow, ignorant nationalism that war promotes in the first place.” — Moustafa Bayoumi, The Guardian

UNHCR Dismayed at Mistreatment of non-European Refugees

The UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR, has expressed dismay over reports that foreigners fleeing Ukraine amid its war with Russia are experiencing mistreatment and pleaded for more humanity and compassion for non-Europeans and refugees from other nations. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi spoke out about reports that have emerged of discrimination against non-Ukrainian or non-European refugees at some entry points and people’s reference to them using discriminatory or racist terminology. He quoted UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres as saying that “there should be absolutely no discrimination between Ukrainians and non-Ukrainians, Europeans and non-Europeans,” as all are at risk.

Refugees entering Poland from Ukraine at the Medyka border crossing point. Photo: © UNHCR/Chris Melzer

The Guardian – They are ‘civilised’ and ‘look like us’: the racist coverage of Ukraine

By MOUSTAFA BAYOUMI

Moustafa Bayoumi has analyzed the racism factor in the way the media has been reporting the refugee situation and asks: “Are Ukrainians more deserving of sympathy than Afghans and Iraqis?” And he observes, “Many seem to think so,” based on his in-depth look at what has been said and written in the media as hundreds of thousands of refugees flee Ukraine to seek protection in neighbouring countries following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine a week ago.

“What all these petty, superficial differences – from owning cars and clothes to having Netflix and Instagram accounts – add up to is not real human solidarity for an oppressed people. In fact, it’s the opposite. It’s tribalism. These comments point to a pernicious racism that permeates today’s war coverage and seeps into its fabric like a stain that won’t go away. The implication is clear: war is a natural state for people of color, while white people naturally gravitate toward peace” — Moustafa Bayoumi, The Guardian

Moustafa Bayoumi, is professor of English at Brooklyn College, City University of New York and contributing opinion writer at Guardian US as well as author of the award-winning books How Does It Feel To Be a Problem?: Being Young and Arab in America and This Muslim American Life: Dispatches from the War on Terror. Please read Bayoumi’s complete article in The Guardian by clicking They are ‘civilised’ and ‘look like us’: the racist coverage of Ukraine.

Date posted: March 3, 2022.

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