Europe Helping Out Ukrainian Refugees Makes Sense
The refugee situation in Europe is getting worse with every passing year. Not long back there was news about those innumerable lot from the Middle East and North Africa attempting to illegally enter the continent through the Belarus border, and being admirably resisted by the Polish forces. Now the news is about refugees from Ukraine, the significant difference being the fact that they are escaping war.
Following the attack by Russia in late February millions of Ukrainians have fled to neighboring countries. Many are being temporarily housed for free in the five neighboring countries under a collaboration between the International Organization for Migration, an intergovernmental agency, and the charitable arm of Airbnb.
Poland has close to three million refugees from Ukraine. This is by far the largest number. Even Ursula von der Leyen, the European Commission President, has commended Poland saying “Polish people have shown extraordinary generosity & solidarity towards those fleeing the invasion of Ukraine.”
Then Hungary, after years of keeping migrants out, has softened its anti-refugee stance and opened its door to those fleeing in the aftermath of the Russian invasion. Romania and Slovakia have also accepted a lot many. Meanwhile, the Moldovan authorities have admitted reaching breaking point in their ability to cope with refugees.
Despite the influx many fresh attempts are being made to evacuate civilians from cities under siege in Ukraine, and humanitarian corridors are being set up in many places to facilitate safe passage. In fact interior ministers of the European Union met in Brussels (Belgium) in late February to discuss the bloc’s response and management of the developing refugee crisis.
Even as the humanitarian crisis plays out there are also those who do not refrain from politicizing the issue. Much of the Western media has been being slammed for their “racism” while reporting on the refugee crisis in Ukraine vis-à-vis their reportage as regards those fleeing from MENA countries. There are those who lament that while the latter were vilified, the Ukrainian refugees are being welcomed by the same European countries.
Now people fleeing war and seeking refugee is not a new phenomenon. However, over the years many new dimensions have been added to the refugee situation.
Conflicts in the Middle East and Africa, for instance, has ensured millions of people not seeking refuge in nearby countries but looking for a shelter in Europe and North America. As per international law refugees should seek refuge in countries neighboring their own, partly because of the cultural similarity and in part owing to the fact that they can return home when circumstances change.
However, that’s not the case with many refugees from the Middle East and North Africa. Many of them preferred to head all the way to Europe and even North America to seek asylum. The 2015 European migration crisis is a major example of this strategy. Even forced migrants these days make a choice as regards which country to move to. How else you explain so many refugees fleeing the MENA countries and landing up in Europe? There are many who have taken advantage of the fact that there is no legal requirement for a refugee to claim asylum.
Secondly, and more importantly, it is a fact that you don’t select the country you are born in. However, when you move in to a country, or a forced to migrate to another country owing to unforeseeable circumstances, it is a choice. In such a case it is not only about respecting your country of residence. It is about respecting your own choice.
This is precisely where the refugees from these MENA countries have failed to a large extent. While they made a choice to be westward bound in search of a better life there remains this refusal to adapt to the culture of that country of choice. They want to enjoy the economic benefits alright but aren’t keen to make any adjustments to their usual lifestyle, habits and beliefs. Total integration is a myth, so let’s not talk about that. But where are the basic adjustments?
Be it turning areas in major cities into ghettos, being unruly and noisy, taking little or no steps to prevent the expansion of their already bloated families, integrating into the local fabric or the worst of all, that inherent reluctance to shred their blinkered religious beliefs, these people have to take the blame for some of the woes that have changed the cultural landscape of Europe in a negative manner since their arrival. The sexual assaults on New Year’s eve in Cologne, Germany is a manifestation of this dastardly habit.
That many million refugees from these countries were accepted by the likes of Germany, Sweden and other countries have encouraged their countrymen to set out on similar missions. Moreover, it has encouraged countries like Belarus, Morocco and Turkey to use these refugees as weapons of mass destruction so to speak, arm-twisting European governments and having it their way. The recent humanitarian crisis manufactured by the Belarussian government in their borders with Poland, Lithuania and Latvia is the latest example of this.
Adding fire to this crisis is a perennially biased liberal media, that always prefers to focus on one side of the story and negate the other completely. Refugees seeking asylum in a country is a short term crisis. However, refugees not willing to return to their native countries at any given point, and in turn trying to convert their adopted country into the one the left in the first place, is a greater humanitarian crisis.
A visit near the central station neighborhood in most major European cities these days gives any individual the feeling that they are in a city in any of the MENA countries than Europe. This is a systemic change, one that involves the eradication of a country’s cultural fabric. However, the media turns a blind eye to this and there is no expert commenting on this supposedly grave scenario, simply because cashing in on the human interest angle is a lot more convenient.
Taking into consideration all the scenarios the European countries showing generosity to those fleeing from Ukraine makes sense, not only from the geographical point of view but also culturally.
The Stand With Ukraine hashtags seem justified as the governments across Europe only have to think only about the economic aspects and not about the social and cultural implications.
Besides, a majority of those fleeing Ukraine are women and children, and the chances of them returning back to their home country once normalcy is restored is a lot higher. This is in stark contrast to the 2015 situation, when it was mostly young men who landed in Europe even as their families were left behind in home countries, thereby ensuring a prospect of reunion in their preferred countries of choice but nullifying the chances of a return. Bluntly put, this set of Ukrainian refugees will not ensure a systematic cultural upheaval like the previous lot has, and is still continuing doing.
Europe has become synonymous with refugees and asylum seekers over the years, and the situation will go from bad to worse with every passing year — especially considering the fact that most of the governments around the globe are failing their people, and leaving them with little choice. The geographic location of the continent makes it all the more susceptible. It will hold Europe in good stead if those fleeing their countries are culturally similar. That will ensure easy assimilation, less chaos and even lesser problems in the future.