In recent days, we have been witnessing unimaginable suffering and violence aimed at Ukraine and Ukrainian people. We unconditionally condemn the Russian invasion, and we stand in solidarity with the Ukrainian people.
The solidarity expressed by communities in neighboring countries and across Europe, as well as the solidarity of European governments opening channels for movement of Ukrainian refugees is to be commended. Solidarity is one of the most beautiful acts of humanity, and Europe truly stood up to the challenge.
However, we are deeply concerned and disappointed by the standard of reporting on this crisis presented by international journalists who use stigmatising and divisive language, and blatant racist stereotypes. We are also deeply concerned and disappointed by confirmed reports of racism and discrimination at the borders of Ukraine. Black and refugees of colour fleeing Ukraine were stopped from crossing the border to safe countries, and refugees from other parts of the world were branded ‘uncivilized’. The only people who are ‘uncivilized’ are those who degrade humanity by conditioning solidarity based on the hierarchy of people’s worth.
In recent days we have also witnessed double standards in the responses of the European and US governments in their refugee policies. Many European countries lifted visas and opened their doors to Ukrainian refugees. The EU and the US have triggered the Temporary Protection Measure to offer safety to Ukrainian refugees. Commendable actions, however, these are actions that were not granted to any refugees before. These gestures highlight the inconsistency in policy response and highlight how humanitarian response is unevenly applied to refugee communities, especially Black and refugees of colour.
Many members of our network have direct experience of crossing borders while fleeing war and persecution. Many of our members had to face lack of solidarity when seeking refuge in Europe. These new measures bring joy and hope that we have arrived at a point where all refugees will be welcomed in an equal measure, and their experiences will be shared by other people seeking safety.
It is unbelievable to observe how unapologetically comfortable European States are in conditioning solidarity based on people’s skin colour and country of birth. Therefore we are calling on expanding all forms of solidarity to all fleeing war in Ukraine, and war in any other places. European states proved that a more welcoming refugee policy is not only possible but it is easy to do. We are urging EU and other governments to provide protection to all people fleeing war and persecution as per 1951 Geneva Convention and Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Let us not degrade the value of solidarity by conditioning it on people’s skin and eye colour. Let us remove double standards from solidarity and let us apply a welcoming refugee policy to all.
The Transatlantic Mirant Democracy Dialogue (TMDD) is a network of diverse migrant and refugee leaders. We work to strengthen democracies by collectively building powerful movements and communities across Europe and the US.