3

During the Russian Ukrainian war, Eastern EU members have accepted millions of Ukrainian refugees without complaint. This was in stark contrast to refugees from Africa and the Middle East which were met with hostility. What caused the difference in acceptance between the two groups of refugees?

1
  • Closed as dupe per author's request. I am not merging the questions as it is not an exact duplicate.
    – CDJB
    Commented Aug 16, 2023 at 7:58

5 Answers 5

17

Three answers, which apply to different degrees in different countries:

  • Many people in these countries feel also threatened by Russia. Their reaction is not to appease Russia but to confront it, and they feel solidarity with other victims of Russian aggression.
  • Many of these governments have stated consistently that refugees should be sheltered by regional states. They said that they are not regional for refugees from the Middle East or Africa, and also that they had to preserve capacity for a Russian attack. They are regional for refugees from Ukraine.
  • Many people in these countries are uncomfortable with people from other ethnic groups. That is, racism.
2
  • 2
    @o.m. People from a culturally more similar group integrate much more easily and cause much less internal strife than people from a culturally much more different group holding very different values and living a drastically different lifestyle. This is a fact of life, not necessarily racism. Maybe 1 out of 100 who say what I just mentioned are really just racist jerks who use this merely as an excuse, but that does not invalidate the other 99.
    – vsz
    Commented Aug 16, 2023 at 5:56
  • @phoog: I think (unfortunately) it’s not even facts which matter but mostly general perception.
    – Michael
    Commented Aug 16, 2023 at 7:13
12

Culture.

I am from the Netherlands, and here we are much more open towards Ukrainian refugees than African/Middle Eastern refugees. The given reasons by most people are:

  1. They are actually women and children. Ukraine forces its men to stay and fight, while Ukrainian women and children are allowed to flee. People are often more inclined to accept these individuals than men. When looking at African and Middle Eastern refugees who cross our borders, most of them are men.

  2. Bad experiences. Until recently, I was a college teacher at a college located next to two high schools. The three schools combined their security teams and had them patrol as far as the train station (five streets away) to ensure that students got there safely. This was due to a nearby refugee center, whose inhabitants are mostly males in their 20s and 30s, who harassed the girls attending those schools. Countless other incidents have occurred across the entire country (and the same is true for several other European countries) which have made African/Middle Eastern refugees seem dangerous.

  3. The war is more visible and has better news coverage. The war in Ukraine affects Europeans, and we can see its impact more and more, which increases our sense of compassion. Africa and the Middle East are far from our homes, allowing us to emotionally distance ourselves. Additionally, many African/Middle Eastern "refugees" are from safe countries and pretend to be from war zones to obtain asylum. Due to inadequate documentation, it is difficult to track this, whereas Ukrainian refugees can mostly prove their status as genuine refugees.

4
  • 7
    I think this answer basically is founded in racism itself. It insinuates that Middle Eastern refugees are lying or less deserving that Ukrainian ones. It also tries to establish Middle Eastern refugees as criminal sexual predators on the basis of anecdotes, without providing any actual statistics—unsurprising, since even if there were any relation, the statistics would undoubtedly show that most refugees were not violent criminals or sexual harassers—let alone considering how the social conditions to which refugees are subject might promote any such hypothetical relation.
    – Obie 2.0
    Commented Aug 15, 2023 at 17:43
  • 2
    I find this answer somewhat offensive, but I wonder if there is not a kernel of truth to some of it, despite its poster's posting history on the subject. First, though, let's all remember that "saving the honor of (white) Southern women" was all too often a prelude to lynchings in the Southern US. That said, gender imbalances can be problematic with young men. And, there was ample coverage of related problems in Koln NYE 2015. Commented Aug 15, 2023 at 17:59
  • 7
    Second, well, when Venezuelans fled the country, they largely went to its Latin American neighbors. No one really found it odd that a regional crisis got addressed by its neighbors. No one insisted that Latin Americans should be color blind and should instead accept people from the Middle East or Africa. So, while it may feel uncomfortable to acknowledge regional preferences they also seem part of human nature. You can always DV this because it makes you uncomfortable, I upvoted despite it making me uncomfortable (and despite a doubt about the motives behind it). Commented Aug 15, 2023 at 18:04
  • 4
    @Obie2.0 a very small number of individuals can cause a significant disruption to public order. Just go visit the central train station in Brussels and it will be readily apparent… Commented Aug 15, 2023 at 21:12
6

On top of what others have said, it is the expectation that a sizable portion of them will be returning to Ukraine once the war is over. Other types of refugees are usually in the EU to stay forever. This makes the Ukrainians easier to accept for the public at large.

4
  • 2
    it is the expectation that a sizable portion of them will be returning to Ukraine once the war is over. --- this is expectation, but, reality is Ukrainian refugees are pouring in since 2014 and they never went back.
    – user366312
    Commented Aug 15, 2023 at 19:18
  • 2
    Because the war isn't over.
    – user42328
    Commented Aug 15, 2023 at 19:19
  • 2
    Someone who is already holding a permanent recidency, a stable job or business will hardy go back.
    – user366312
    Commented Aug 15, 2023 at 19:22
  • 1
    And your point is...?
    – user42328
    Commented Aug 15, 2023 at 19:25
0

In essence, Eastern European countries have an utterly negative attitude toward Muslims. The attitude is because they hate Muslim culture, diet, jihadist activities, genital mutilation, blah blah blah.

The vast majority of Poles do not agree to accept immigrants from Muslim countries, according to a poll conducted by the Pollster Research Institute for Super Express and Nowa TV.

15 percent of the respondents answered. Almost five times as many survey participants - 71% - were of the opposite opinion.

Pipes, in the right-wing The Washington Times, "leans the position of PiS supporters" who argue that the "constant +diet+ reports from Western Europe of jihadist brutality, gang initiation, honor killings, collective sexual harassment, female genital mutilation crimes, benefit fraud and cultural aggression has resulted in pressure from the party's lower ranks for the party to adopt an anti-immigration and anti-Islamic stance.

Such fears, according to Pipes, explain the success of PiS-like parties in other European countries. "These parties represent Europeans who are concerned about the future of their civilization," points out Daniel Pipes.

Poland - emphasizes Pipes - has avoided many problems caused by the influx of refugees from Muslim countries, which Western European countries are currently struggling with.

However, now, their favorite refugees from Ukraine, Georgia, Moldova, Romania, etc. are flooding them with crime, violence, and gang warfare.

Among the statistics, newcomers from Ukraine are in the lead. Out of 4,695 foreigners suspected of crimes, as many as 2,288 cases are Ukrainians. Second in order are Georgians - 901, followed by immigrants from Belarus - 277, Moldova - 228 and Russia - 80. Then there are people from Romania (69 people), Germany (67), Bulgaria (63) and the Czech Republic ( 51 people).

1
  • 1
    are flooding them with crime => what's the per-capita rate vs locals? Commented Aug 15, 2023 at 19:57
0

Defense and humanitarian help are different things.

Easter Europe is seeing Russia as aggressive, and wonder if the next "special operation" would not be into them. Because of the fears of the own safety, they stand rather firmly on the side of Ukraine, and accepting refugees is not the only possible help they provide.

Apart from being an official position, the view that Russia is dangerous, and for doing nothing you may get tomorrow "удар высокоточным оружием" (high-precision strike) right into the window of your bedroom is pretty widespread. Russia has additionally contributed to this by massive strikes over energy grid all over Ukraine and not somewhere at front. History also does not help: Soviet Union did occupied the Baltic States short before WWII, came to Hungary (1956), Czechoslovakia (1968) with tanks for "friendly help", attempted something in Lithuania in 1991. This harms the reputation enough even without any PR.

As a result, comparison of help for Ukrainian refugees versus help for refugees from "other nations" as about as appropriate as comparing the spending on tanks for the own defense vs buying bicycles as humanitarian help for Africa. It cold easily be more tanks than bicycles, and this has nothing to do with exactly racism. There is a budget for self-defense and a budget for humanitarian help. These are not comparable and the priorities are obvious.

6
  • 1
    I don't find this answer believable. Taking in Ukrainian refugees has minimal defensive benefits. It may even negatively affect self-defense: some such refugees would otherwise have been fighting against Russia.
    – Obie 2.0
    Commented Aug 15, 2023 at 17:36
  • 1
    Ukrainian refugees, unlikely. They are mostly woman and children
    – Stančikas
    Commented Aug 15, 2023 at 19:16
  • politics.stackexchange.com/a/80844/32479
    – user366312
    Commented Aug 15, 2023 at 19:16
  • 1
    @Obie2.0 So are children above the age of 15 or so. You still don't see many of them on the front. Also while women can definitely serve in the military, the time it takes to get an average woman into fighting trim vs. average man (for front line duty, infantry) is ages apart. Sure you can have women soldiers, but if you're choosing for quick and dirty draft, you're much much much better off with men. And that's ignoring the psychological side of things and the fact that most of the women refugees are here with THEIR children.
    – DRF
    Commented Aug 16, 2023 at 7:14
  • 2
    And also shoking news: Men tend to be more aggresive than women and tend to have a better physical condition to do so. Commented Aug 16, 2023 at 7:19

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .