Photo by Ashley Gilbertson VII for UNICEF
Refugees from Ukraine are treated with a “double standard”
According to UN refugee agency data, more than 7.8 million Ukrainian refugees were registered across Europe in December, ten months after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which began on February 24 and appears to be expected to last until 2023.
UN organizations got ready to help as soon as the violence started. UNHCR, along with other UN agencies and partners, managed the response to refugees on behalf of national governments.
For instance, personnel helped the government in the neighbouring country of Poland register refugees and give them housing and aid.
Filippo Grandi praised European countries for being willing to take in Ukrainian refugees, most of whom were looking for safety in their neighbours. However, he also said he felt terrible for the country and its people.
Ripped to pieces
Families have been arbitrarily torn apart. He warned that many more people will suffer the same fate if the war continues.
However, when it came to some members of minority cultures, this generosity of spirit was not always there. Mr. Grandi exposed the racism, bigotry, and violence they experienced in March.
Mr. Grandi stated during a speech on the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination that the UN refugee agency had seen “the ugly reality” that some Black and Brown people fleeing Ukraine and other wars and conflicts around the world had not received the same treatment as Ukrainian refugees.
In July, UN Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants González Morales repeated Mr. Grandi’s worries. In particular, Mr. Morales claimed that people of African origin and other racial and ethnic minorities are treated differently from other refugees in Poland and Belarus.
Due to the ongoing armed conflict in the Tigray region, which started on November 3, 2020, between Ethiopian national forces, Eritrean troops, Amhara forces, and other militias on the one side, and forces loyal to the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front on the other, millions of Ethiopians remain internally displaced.
By the end of the year, a fragile peace deal brokered by the international community seemed to be holding. Help was getting to the troubled northern districts that had been cut off for months, and many people were going home to fix their lives.
The UN refugee agency issued a dire warning in January, stating that the region’s refugees were struggling to access enough food, medicine, and clean water due to deteriorating conditions and that they risked dying unless things changed.
Boris Cheshirkov, a spokesman for the UNHCR, said that the terrible conditions in these camps show how the lack of access and supplies affects millions of displaced people and other civilians in the region.
Refugees have also come under direct attack. In February, for example, armed people broke into an Eritrean camp in the Afar region, killed the people there, and took their things. This drove thousands of Eritreans to escape.
In August, UN agencies issued a critical funding request to assist over 750 000 people fleeing to Ethiopia. Without the necessary funding, the World Food Programme warned, many refugees would go without food.