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Ukrainian refugees and their impact on Europe

Mohammad Ayub Mirdadis a lecturer at Universitas Airlangga in Indonesia, who was born in March 1988 in Kabul, Afghanistan. He has worked with different governmental and non-governmental organizations between the years 2007-2013 in Afghanistan. He holds a BA in Political Science from Kateb University, MA in International Relations, and Ph.D. in Social Science (International Relations) from Universitas Airlangga, Indonesia. His doctoral dissertation entitled, The Persistence of Taliban in the Post-Afghan Taliban Regime; Combining Contributions of Internal and External Factors. In addition, he has published articles titled, Taliban Insurgency and Transnational Organized Crime Nexus and The Role of Religion, Idea, and Identity in Taliban Alliance with Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan. Also, a researcher in a project (Fight Poverty to End Insecurity, Afghan perceptions of insecurity) that conducted by CARE International in Afghanistan, Swedish Committee for Afghanistan. He is an active academic researcher and speaker and is invited as a keynote speaker in various national and international seminars & webinars. His expertise is on Terrorism, Conflict studies, and Globalization studies.

As the Russo-Ukrainian War progressed, many Ukrainians were displaced and forced to start a new life in other European countries to escape the damage of the war.To deeply understand this situation, the Center conducted an exclusive interview with Dr. Mohammad Ayub Mirdad to find out his answers to the question of Ukrainian refugees with their impact on European countries and European double standard for refugees from different regions.

Mohammad Ayub Mirdad:Ukrainian refugees and their impact on Europe

I want to have a different and comparative discussion about Ukrainian refugees and refugees from war-torn countries. Before answering the question, I would like to mention the definition of freedom of movement by the (Universal Human Rights Declaration) and refugee by the (UNHCR) here.

Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each state. Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country (Universal Declaration of Human Rights). Refugees are people who have fled war, violence, conflict or persecution and have crossed an international border to find safety in another country (UNHCR).

From the above definition it’s very clear that everyone has the right regardless of their religion, race, color, rich, and poor to move freely and seek refuge in any country. But in reality, it’s the opposite, only the rich countries, white skin people with blonde hair have the right to freedom of movement, not the poor countries people. It’s the same case with refugees, the refugees from rich countries are different from those of poor or war-torn.

War always brings destruction and displacement. Whether the war between Russia and Ukraine or the war against terrorism, the real victims are always innocent people. When it comes to refugees there are always double standards taken by western countries, particularly the EU. Double standards means, where the refugees came from? What is their religion? What is their skin color? What is their race?, etc. we’ve witnessed this in the past 20 years, the refugees from war-torn countries such as Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq, and Libya encountered racism, discrimination, mistreatment, and deportation in the West, particularly in European countries. Following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, there has been a wave of refugees from what experts consider to be the largest influx of asylum seekers in Europe since World War II. Since Russia invaded Ukraine, most Ukrainian sought refuge in neighboring countries mainly Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Estonia, Moldova, Belarus, and Russia. But the refugees from Ukraine did not encounter major problems, rather most EU members provided them with facilities such as social welfare and access to housing, medical care, food, cash, and schools. 27 members nation of the EU granted Ukrainians who fled their country the right to work for up to three years. The UK launched to Ukrainians Homes for Ukraine scheme refugees who come via the scheme will be able to live and work in the UK for up to three years, and access healthcare, rent-free for at least six months, and schools. Canada is another country that has pledged to take in an “unlimited number” of Ukrainians fleeing their country. Ukrainians who arrive in Canada will be permitted to live and work in for up to three years.

Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, more than 4 million Ukrainians have fled Ukraine to neighboring and EU countries. As I said above, the European Union is doing its best to treat Ukrainian refugees in a very humane way, not like Afghan, Syrian, and Iraqi refugees. Ukrainian refugees, in my opinion, will not face problems in terms of ethnicity and social aspects, one of the reasons is their similarity with Europeans, for example, religion, culture, race, and historical relations play an important role. Culturally, Ukrainians and Europeans also have a lot in common and they can easily adapt to European society.

Regarding the security of European countries, this also goes back to the same double standards that I discussed above. I think that European countries are not worried about the threat posed by Ukrainian refugees because Ukrainians are also considered European, and their religion, their skin color, and their culture are very similar to other European countries. That is why they have opened their borders to them and have not imposed any restrictions on Ukrainian refugees. European countries treat Ukrainian refugees quite differently than refugees from war-torn countries such as Afghanistan, Syria, and Iraq.

For example, it has been almost one year since Afghanistan fell to the Taliban because of the infamous Doha agreement between the Taliban and the United States. More than 90 percent of the people in Afghanistan are living below the poverty line, the Taliban have taken away all their rights and freedom and people live without any income. Hundreds of thousands of former government and non-government employees are in danger and are in a very bad economic and security situation. Despite the announcement of the European countries including the UK, Australia and Canada declared that they will accept Afghan refugees, but still, the majority of them are in an unknown situation and all their attention is on Ukraine. The European countries have made all the facilities available to Ukrainian refugees. This shows very obvious discrimination and double standards by Western countries.

In the end, I want to say that I am not anti-Ukrainian and I hate war! No nation knows the pain of the war better than the Afghans, who have been burning in the fire of war for more than 40 years. As I said at the beginning, innocent people have always been victims of war. With the hope of one day, everyone in the world will enjoy equal rights, regardless of religion, belief, race, and color, and a world free of war and violence.

Interviewer:Zhang Jiabao

Translators: Xu Houkun, Wang Xuetong




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