Three months after the invasion of Ukraine by Russia, the world reels from a conflict that has seen over 11 million Ukrainians fleeing their homes and over 3,500 people killed and rising. European countries have swiftly reacted to offer support, aid and refuge for affected Ukrainians, which has led commentators to point out the stark difference in response to similarly displaced people from other parts of the world. Reports of discrimination against international students from Africa, South Asia and the Middle East as they attempted to leave Ukraine, biased reporting by some Western reporters, and the unified welcome of Ukrainian refugees versus nonwhite asylum seekers have led to conversations about Europe’s double standard for refugees.

We spoke to Patricia Daley, a co-founder of Black Women For Black Lives (BW4BL), an organization which has raised funds to help black people leave Ukraine, and Gilbert Martin, founder of We are South Africans, an NGO assisting students caught in the conflict, for an on-the-ground perspective on the treatment of international students. We also posed questions to immigration expert Loren Landau and European Commission spokesperson on home affairs, migration and internal security, Anitta Hipper, for a broader look at migration trends and policies.

Funded by the European Union. Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or the European Commission. Neither the European Union nor the granting authority can be held responsible for them.

39 comments Post a commentcomment

What do YOU think?

  1. avatar
    catherine benning

    Does Europe have a double standard for refugees?

    Do refugees have a double standard for Europe? And do they have a preference for the country who offers the largest some of money and benefits to their pockets.

    Why doesn’t Europe offer refugees an equal amount of benefit no matter where they arrive for protection. All European countries give the same. And if they cannot prove they have come from areas of war or strife why are they not denied all status until they show their truth. If no proof of origin or date of birth, no assistance at all and directly to Rwanda, its a wonderful place to get looked after. No racism, no discrimination. Everyone treated equally. So fair and welcoming.

  2. avatar

    But we are accepting traitors who are endangering their neighbour Russia with NATO bases on their doorstep. Just because they are NATO bases, do we turn a blind eye to traitors? Just because NATO sells Ukraine weapons, do we turn a blind eye to traitors supporting traitors? This act of NATO is violating agreements with Russia. The EU is messed up beyond repair.

  3. avatar

    As Europeans we are failing to demonstrate our values in all situations, our actions are differrent based on political situation, country of origin of the crisis etc.

  4. avatar

    Eu agiria da mesma forma. Um ser humano nao tem raça nem nacionalidade é pertença deste mundo aos trambolhões…..digo eu…

  5. avatar

    Wrong question. Would we welcome them if they were illegal immigrants or economic migrants rather than refugees? No we would not.

  6. avatar

    Is that a serious question? Of course we have double standard 🤦🏻‍♂️

  7. avatar

    Yes, like any other country or continent on earth. That’s not an excuse to not do better, but certainly puts things into perspective.

  8. avatar

    There’s literally nothing wrong with preferring to rather help your neighbours rather than distant other nations with different cultures.
    Also what’s with the americanisms, “white” or “non white”? European countries aren’t melting pots like USA where ethnicities are all mixed so demographics are simplified down to skin colour

    • avatar

      that is exactly what is wrong with us as europeans, as we choose when our european values shall apply and when not.

    • avatar

      well I see nothing wrong as it’s European union and not world union for a reason

    • avatar

      i respect your opinion but fully dismiss it and consider it wrong.

    • avatar

      well you’ve replied to my thread, not other way around 🤷🏼‍♂️

    • avatar

      i wanted to make sure thT you.mean what you say and make you aknowledge that there are other opinions and people who think that yours is not addressing the values of Europe.

    • avatar

      yes I get that, mine just lies in the fact that all other major civilisations would also prefer to help their neighbours rather than bring the problems of other civilisations to their countries and there’s nothing wrong with that

    • avatar

      but we cannot treat humans differently based on their origin, and we declare this as our values – and fail to act that way.

    • avatar

      well most within the EU didn’t even do that, only some western countries

    • avatar

      avrosdmost of Europe We actually are a melting pot cultures and diverse ethnic groups,

    • avatar

      not comparable to USA, where everyone speaks 1 language and has states rather than individual countries which are homogenous with native population

  9. avatar

    We can, because I, alike the majority of at least my country didn’t sign up to be the saviour of the world, always enough local problems as it is. EU is not the UN, plus even their refugee rules mention the next safe country to where the war zone is

    • avatar
      Ibrahim Elsanhoury

      yes correct but if ur from Syria and u refuge and then you go to isnotreal where it’s not save but then u got Iraq oh wait its also not safe cause of the USA

  10. avatar

    but then we have to stop living in illusions and say so. And then we also have to stop invading other countrues for their resources and leave them alone 🤷‍♂️

  11. avatar

    There should be no discrimination against any refugees. All of them should be kept in locked refugee camps and all of them who don’t flee from regions without military actions should be deported.

    • avatar

      I feel like you are not sharing european values nor accepting international laws that apply in such situations. Besides, very little you understand about european needs for work force 🤷‍♂️

    • avatar

      If Europe need a workforce the answer is investing in the native working population and its reproduction. Something that’s not a European priority on purpose. Working force from illiterate third world immigrants who can’t even write their names?🤷‍♂️

  12. avatar

    both shall be valid, you cannot fulfil all available job positions at once (unless you know fast way to “clone” people in Labs). But I agree that local governments shall invest into own population growth, education and labor market. But things are not hapenning over night 🤷‍♂️

  13. avatar

    Not double standards, just smart enough to know what is right. Big difference between Ukraine refugees and middle east refugees. The war in Syria had a majority of military aged men as refugees. People which as a majority do not integrate. Ukraine? woman, children and old people. They have no issues integrating. As well, the Syrian refugee crisis brought along people from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Africa etc. Only progressive demagogues don’t see the issue.

    • avatar

      Greece too, please…

    • avatar


  14. avatar
    JT HK

    Why don’t send the refugees to the America which has been profiting so hugely on the oil and LPG price and arms sales. Europe’s economy is also badly damaged by the war. If the US is not going to take the refugees, it has to pay for the messy for its great power competition with Russia.

  15. avatar

    According to the PEW Research Center, survey in 2015 and again in 2018 the majority of Europeans support their country taking in refugees. The double standards does not appear to lay with the man on the street but with the governments.…/a-majority-of-europeans…/

  16. avatar
    JT HK

    Europe is committing suicide. Before the economy can start the post-Covid recovery, it has abandoned the Europe China investment plan but joined the US proxy war with Russia. Cannot imagine how political leaders can be brain-dead like the NATO.

  17. avatar

    I hope so. We have vocation to welcome refugees from Europe not those from africa or middle east

  18. avatar

    TLDR yes, and that is good.
    Jesus i swear the guys at DebEu should switch drugs, try bleach next time.
    First of all:
    Is pretty normal to be more accomodating with people that are felt closer for socio-cultural reasons.
    Ukrainians/Russians/slavs in general are certainly closer to Europeans in cultural and religious term than any african or asian group.
    That makes them “more appealing” and that is not only normal, is also okay.
    Blind trust is bad.
    Also drop the SJW racism, makes you only appear stupid, and racist.
    And ignorant.
    Virtue signalling is pathetic.
    Europe is made of NATION state, go back to school if you have forgotten what makes a nation: common language, culture, heritage, history,
    Europe is no melting pot.
    Far from it.
    And the attempt to destroy the nation state (because duh racist! Buh nationalism) is destroying all european societies.
    And an unstable society breeds troubles.
    People care more about your background than your skintone.
    As they should.
    Different background bring different morals, values, religion cultures etc etc some are compatible between eachothers, some are certainly not.
    A religion of peace is not compatible with an emancipated society for example.
    Self determination is not compatible with the eu.
    Basic freedom with socialism..
    Greens with sustainable energy policy
    Accountability with leftist..
    Yada yada

    • avatar
      Ole C.

      I agree with the message you wish to convey, good sir – but theres one thing you havent understood.
      The european brotherhood is the spirit of self-determination.
      What role does a nation state play in the great chess-game that is the modern geopolitical environment? Times are changing, and out of the ashes of the old world, which was plunged into hellfire not less than eighty years ago, a new idea rose, a new spirit, something not seen before in the history of nations. It was the concept of europe, with division, the cultures of this old continent would be destroyed, truly even now, you see this progress, but in a limited form, thank god for this idea, this idea of europe. Listen to the radio, watch TV, what do you hear, what do you see? American movies, american music – is it the europeans, who destroy your identity, or is it those unstoppable tides from beyond the great pond? Is it your neighbour, or is it the foreign one, the one who dominates your political discourse, with their american viewpoints, their american talking points, hell even you fell for it! Out of all the people, you fell for the thing, that undermines your identity – what is leftism? what is socialism? Most of these concept, may they exist in the real world, have been polarised by the american, as words of evil, of destruction, not understanding their true meaning – sir, you’ve fallen for the trap, that is the culture of america, that is made to assmiliate, to destroy.

      The european union, is the only force, powerful enough to stop that, the only thing powerful enough to preserve the history of this old continent, the identity that made us all “European”. Dont fight to destroy the only thing that protects you, but fight for it, fight for what it stands, for what you want it to be – the discourse of the european nations, is the only thing protecting us from falling into the abyss of irrelevancy.
      Europe is your Home, Europe is my Home, together we will strife for a new world, a world for all our brothers and sisters. United.

  19. avatar
    Paniz azizmohammadi

    It is not acceptable to segregate people based on their color or culture. It seems that some negative aspects of our common history is repeated again. I am glad to see that Patricia and Martin put their power to fight against discrimination and I hope all goods for their continue success

  20. avatar
    Ole C.

    There are fundamental differences between refugees from the orient, and those, that are now fleeing the war in ukraine.
    The first one, is the form of immigration: Many of the refugees from ukraine are but of a temporary nature – the form of war that is being fought, cannot be sustained for a long time, economically and militarily. Is is very likely that many, if not most of the immigrants from ukraine are going to return to their nation, to rebuild, shape and defend. That is not to be applied to those fleeing from the oriental regions.
    One of the other reasons, why that conviction of “two facedness” exists, is that people do not understand the concept of culture or nationality. Would you welcome a completely unknown person into your home, who you share only a few things with, rather than your brother, who speaks a similar way, and in general, is well aquainted to you? The people of ukraine are europeans, one of the strongest, their culture and history is well connected with the rest of europe, the existence of the ukrainian people, well established in the course of civilisation – can you say the same about those, that come from regions that were for a long time hostile with the european people? Those people that share only little of our values, of our traditions? Only in religion, the people from the orient, and those of the occident are truly united, in a way that is comparable with the unity of ukraine and the rest of the european brotherhood.

    Also i despise the way this “article” is written. It is american by nature – “black women for black lives”, there is nothing that unites “being black” outside of america, skin colour is arbitrary, to see people as one, just because they share the same pigment is racist. – Whiteness an american imperialist concept. There is no white culture, such as there is no black culture, if we truly want to decolonise our language and our understanding of culture, we should let fall all pretext of skin colour in the discourse of culture, and what unites people, for skin colour does only the opposite, it divides, something inherently american – which is harmful for the european dialogue.

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