• European nations took in millions of Ukrainians fleeing Russia’s invasion. 
  • The UN High Commissioner for Refugees said that shows they can take in refugees from other nations. 
  • He called the contrast in response compared to the 2015 migration of Syrian refugees “racist.” 

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees said the crisis in Ukraine shows that Europe is able to take in a large number of refugees and can do so with those fleeing other nations, the Associated Press reported. 

“If that’s possible for such a large number of people, and since that has proven so effective, why not use some of these approaches also for other people that are coming to knock at Europe’s doors?” Filippo Grandi said.

The response to the millions of Ukrainians fleeing Russia’s invasion was in stark contrast to the response many European nations had when millions of refugees, mainly fleeing Syria, tried to enter the continent in 2015. Some nations even built fences to keep migrants out, Reuters reported. 

“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?”  Ahmad al-Hariri, a Syrian refugee in Lebanon told Reuters

Grandi called efforts to distinguish between Ukrainian refugees and migrants coming from other nations, such as the Middle East, “racist.”

The EU activated it’s Temporary Protection Directive for the first time since it was adopted in 2001 in response to the war in Ukraine. The order was put in place following conflicts in former Yugoslavia, and allows those fleeing the war in Ukraine to move around EU nations, get jobs, housing, education, and healthcare. 

“Heads of government in Europe spent hours, days negotiating where, who should take a hundred people floating on a boat in the Mediterranean,” Grandi told the AP, referring to 2015 migration of asylum-seekers.  “And then contrary to that, millions (of Ukrainians were) embraced, accepted, allowed to have access to services in a very effective manner.”

A picture of a switch and lightbulb

Sign up for notifications from Insider! Stay up to date with what you want to know.
Subscribe to push notifications