Double Standard of West on Refugees Defamation, Dehumanization and Deprivation -Md. Imran


When it is called universal human rights, it is automatically referred to every people, not to confuse with citizens, with the certain inalienable rights and privileges regardless of their states, nationality, regions, ethnicity, colors, sex, religion and beliefs. But in reality, standards of human rights practices are not similar for everyone, rather highly segregated. Eventually the treatment of stateless refugees is highly objectionable. Specially, the nasty practices of the West to treat refugees coming from different regions with different standards reveal the inhumane attitudes of the developed countries who claim to be the most civilized community of people on earth. Recent humanitarian crisis in Ukraine has strengthened this perception. Differentiated approach towards the refugees from the Middle East, Asia, Africa and Latin America shows how the West is biased on the same question.
It has been reported that at least 3.7 million Ukrainians has fled to neighboring countries since 24 February and approximately 6.5 million have been internally displaced. Commonly refugee crisis has brought hostile reaction among locals previously in European border areas in the recent years as several conflicts in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and Africans were forced to leave their countries for a minimum living in Europe. Regrettably 1500 has died by drowning the Mediterranean while they were trying to reach Europe. But the recent Ukraine crisis has shown how the picture of the Europe has changed so far. Thousands of people are waiting in Ukraine-Poland border with flowers, piles of vast amount of donated foods, clothes and toys for kids to welcome the Ukrainians fleeing from the Russian aggression (Blinderman, 2022). Huge number of volunteers are helping the refugees even in remote towns. Thousands of the local residents have opened their houses for refugees to stay. Evidently, not only Poland, but also Romania, Moldova, Hungary, Germany and other European countries have opened their border for Ukrainian refugees. So the overall condition is very congenial for Ukrainian refugees as the warmth of commons is very high for them. These development are very desirable and expected as these refugees have already suffered from huge mental and physical loss due to the emerging conflict. But the most unfortunate morale from this new face of Europe is their discrimination and prejudicial reactions to refugees coming from the outside of Europe. This is very unjust from moral and legal point of view.

Political elites have also shown their blatant double standard against the refugees by extending their support to exclusively Ukrainians. Most ruthless was the case of Hungarian President Viktor Orbán, who became elected through his strong campaign against the refugees from the Middle East and Africa, is now opening border for the Ukrainian refugees accusing Muslim refugees labeling as economic opportunists. EU has also passed directive to protect the Ukrainian refugees by giving them initially one year right to reside without applying for asylum with the clause for two years extension. EU has also granted Ukrainian refugees with the institutional entitlement to certain social benefits, right to accommodation and access to education for school going children. These opportunities and benefits were not extended towards other refugees living in scrapped camps in Europe without any social entitlement. However, not only Europeans, but also Western world beyond Europe has also shown their sympathy towards these refugees. Australia will be regarded one of them probably who has established the strictest migration regime against refugees and migrants coming towards its borders. Several detention camps in its territory and has used neighboring countries like Papua New Guinea to run detention camps to accommodate refugees trying to approach its borders. But now Austrian prime minister is pledging its commitment to Ukrainian refugees for their safety. Biden has also committed huge that USA would take 100000 refugees from Ukraine while supporting Ukraine’s neighboring countries with billion dollar aid package (Parker, et al., 2022). It now reminds how Trump banned 7 Muslim countries from granting travel access to USA.

However, the West’s double standard on the question of refugees has become clearer with the recent official statement of the spokesperson of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) citing the open racism by the Western politicians and journalists fuelling widespread discrimination against the refugees (Middle East Monitor, 2022). Western bias against refugees has come out recently with a live coverage in Ukraine by Charlie D’Agata who was a CBS correspondent. He was stating that, “Frankly, these are not refugees from Syria. These are refugees from Ukraine. These are Christians. They are white. They are very similar to people who live in Poland.” He has extended this Western narrow perspective by saying, “This isn’t a place, with all due respect, like Iraq or Afghanistan that has seen conflict raging for decades. This is relatively civilized, relatively European.” These statement asserts and reflects how the thinking of the Western world is living in a hollow. Notoriously the Western media has shown a greater unity behind the humanitarian crisis taking place in Ukraine (Baptiste, 2022). Whereas, these same media houses did not even shown any sympathetic attitudes towards the refugees from Syria, Iraq or Afghanistan as they were not white, Christian or European. Violence in these countries were normalized by the media representation as they deserve to live under violence (Baptiste, 2022). But they show a strong outcry to save the refugees of Ukraine. But there is an interesting implicit indication of multilayer segregation of refugees in the media portrayal as Agata considers Ukrainians relatively civilized and relatively European implying that despite not being fully civilized and European, Ukrainians deserve a sort of protection. So we can see how west conditionally accepts Ukrainians as civilized and European. Ground realities has also confirmed these conceptions as many non-whites and black Africans were prevented to leave Ukraine while whites could let go. Non-whites had to go through harsh measures and discriminations to get into safe place as CNN’s Ukraine-Poland border reports depict. Racism against black Africans was widespread (Busari, et al., 2022).
Now a question maybe asked why the whole western world is much more sympathetic towards the Ukrainian Refugees while not towards others. Using the perspective of imperial mindset of the West can be an explanatory framework. Historically the West has defined the people beyond its hemisphere as “other” who are less capable, irrational and less objective. So, they are regarded as incompatible with the Western values and norms. As a result, non-European refugees have been dehumanized in community through the careful agenda by racist politicians via cultivating prejudicial perceptions among European civilians through biased provocative media coverage. However, it is expected that all refugees from anywhere of the world get the same treatment as Ukrainians are currently enjoying since humanity should not be divided among compartments.