The humanitarian catastrophe caused by the war in Ukraine has resulted in the development of many different reception strategies across the EU. The complexity of this response demonstrates how inconsistent Europe’s answer to immigration and human suffering is. While some refugees are welcomed with open arms, others are being turned away.
Krakow’s population has increased by 50% since Russia attacked Ukraine in February 2022. Meanwhile, Europe has been busying itself with drawing up real and virtual borders that are patrolled by militia.
But migration is an entirely normal phenomenon. People who leave their home country in search of a better life have shaped the face of the continent for centuries. From England to Bulgaria, expats are a core part of Europe’s identity.
In spite of this, foreign workers frequently face rejection. They are often blamed for national economic decline. Nonetheless, they are a vital element of modern-day Europe: In an aging society that depends on migrants to survive, they are the backbone of the labor market.
But as right-wing and eurosceptic voices rise, these basic facts tend to get lost. Now, the war in Ukraine is causing Europe to re-think its position – both ethically and practically. Once again, Europe’s migration policies are facing historical challenges.
Europe’s shifting immigration policy
At the time of writing this post, I’d been living overseas for 17 years. From that perspective, I can relate to the challenges people in the documentary talked about:
- The hardship of living in a country in which you don’t master the language
- The confusion and the helplessness of trying to navigate the day-to-day of life without understanding the culture, especially when you’re not able to grasp (or to even know) the “unspoken” rules
- All the gaslighting and the doubt of not knowing if you’ve been treated harshly because “some people can be difficult” or if you’re being a victim of racism, xenophobia, or discrimination
Just to make sure I’m not misunderstood, I do not regret my experience of living overseas, no matter how difficult it can be at times:
- The hardships I mentioned above are nothing compared to the tragedy of having to leave your country because of war or famine, and arriving in a country with little or no resources
- China give me a son, Caleb; Germany give me Esther and Daniel
- I feel that living in a country outside my own — especially if the country is particularly distant from your own — has helped me to have a better and wider perspective of my world view, and a better and deeper perspective of my own culture
That said, please learn about the plight of the immigrant
Here are some organizations from which you can learn how to help immigrants and refugees:
- National Immigrant Justice Center
- German Federal Office for Migration and Refugees
- International Rescue Committee
- The United Nations Refugee Agency
- Eight Practical Ways to Help Refugees (From TED.com)