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Syrian Refugees Stuck In Camps Dismayed At How Europe Opened Its Doors To Those From Ukraine

Bobins Abraham
Bobins Abraham
Updated on Mar 03, 2022, 13:00 IST- 3 min read -3 K Shares

Europe is in the midst of a refugee crisis, the second the continent has seen since 2015.

But this time around it is some of their own that are fleeing war and are seeking refuge, something Europe never thought would happen.

And naturally, the reaction to the Ukraine refugee crisis has been one of compassion and welcome.

Ukraine refugees AFP

Eastern European countries like Poland, Hungary, Romania and others have been flooded with hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians fleeing the war and they are being accommodated, with arrangements being made for more arrivals.

Syrian refugees not so lucky

In contrast, a few years ago countries like Poland and Hungary had virtually shut their doors to those fleeing the wars in Syria, Iraq, and Yemen and made it almost impossible for them to seek asylum there or proceed to another country.

Syrian refugees Reuters

Many of them who made it to Europe, walking for days or on makeshift boats are still sleeping in tattered tents in sprawling refugee camps in the outskirts of border towns, waiting for their applications to be processed.

Syrian refugees Reuters

They have been left bewildered by what they see as 'preferential treatment' towards the Ukrainian refugees.

Ahmad al-Hariri, a Syrian man who fled the war in his country some ten years ago is one of them.

"We are wondering, why were Ukrainians welcome in all countries while we, Syrian refugees, are still in tents and remain under the snow, facing death, and no one is looking to us?" he told Reuters in a refugee centre where 25 families are sheltered on the edge of the Mediterranean city of Sidon.

However, the mood across Europe seems to be sympathetic towards the plight of the people of Ukraine.

Ukraine refugees Reuters

Poland and Hungary which had last year come under criticism after blocking Syrian refugees who were pushed to their borders by Belarus have deep-running cultural and ethnic ties with Ukraine.

Many have friends and families on the other side of the border, so they feel that it is their duty to welcome those fleeing from the war in Ukraine.

"We have here not the refugee wave which we are accustomed to and we do not know what to do with - people with an unclear past," Bulgaria's Prime Minister Kiril Petkov said, describing Ukrainians as intelligent, educated and highly qualified.

"These are Europeans whose airport has been just bombed, who are under fire," he said. Bulgaria has said it will help everyone coming from Ukraine, where there are about 250,000 ethnic Bulgarians.

Ukraine refugees AFP

Hungary and Poland both say that refugees from the Middle East who arrive at their borders have already crossed other safe countries which have a duty to provide shelter.

Hungary's Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto defended the different approaches. "I must reject drawing comparisons between those fleeing war and those trying to get into the country illegally," he told a United Nations meeting in Geneva.

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