“Ukrainian refugees” but “Syrian migrants” … Will conflict change the way we see displaced people?

On Monday, Interior Minister Gerald Dalmanin said the European Union was preparing to vote for “temporary protection of all Ukrainians arriving in Europe, or asylum,” but Russia invaded for six days. Since then, more than 660,000 people have fled the country. Before, according to the United Nations tally. Later, Beauvau residents mentioned “economic, human, and asylum solidarity” on the French side before gathering chiefs on Tuesday to organize the refugee acceptance. On the same day, Transport Minister Jean-Baptiste Djebbari announced that French long-distance trains will be free for Ukrainian refugees.

A speech of open hands and solidarity, in contrast to Emmanuel Macron’s not-so-distant words. The crisis in Afghanistan was August 16, 2021. The head of state warned that “Europe alone cannot predict the consequences of the current situation” and that it needs to “protect itself from the flow of serious and irregular movements.” A change in semantics has recently emerged that is inescapable from Smaïn Laacher, a sociologist and expert in forced displacement of the European region. “For Ukrainians, there are completely different attitudes towards Syrians, Kurds, Afghanistan …” he confirms.

War with neighboring countries in the distance

Elene Tiole, a CNRS researcher and Science Po teacher on international migration, brings nuances to recall what was already heard in Europe during the 2015 Syrian crisis... Especially that of Angela Merkel, who opened the German border to those who fled the war. According to the United Nations, 1.05 million Syrians are currently refugees in Europe. Researchers recognize this as follows. »»

Why such a difference? First, the Ukrainian crisis literally happens at the EU border, so Poland, a member of the Union, is a direct neighbor of Ukraine. Helene Tiole’s figures: “85-90% of war refugees are in neighboring countries of their country of origin.” In fact, 27 will no longer have a “buffer” country like Turkey between war refugees and them and will have to manage this humanitarian flow.this According to researchers, this will encourage them to take a more united, united and empirical attitude due to the lack of alternatives.

Another practical reason is that the European Union has been indirectly at war with Russia since the invasion of Ukraine. She must show that she does not feel she is threatened by this influx of refugees. Helene Tiole looks back on the immigration crisis at the Polish border when Belarus sent Kurdish refugees to the EU border last November. Borders – Completely abusive, imbalanced and afraid. »»

“Similar” rather than “immigrant”

There is another fundamental difference between the Syrians of 2015 or the Kurds of November 2021 and the Ukrainians of today. “These are non-Islamic Western whites. Europeans are more sympathetic to them and less worried about their integration into the territory. The theme of Islamic immigration is constant in Europe. It has been debated and it influences our judgment and outlook when welcoming Syrian and Kurdish. »»

Sociologists continue: “Ukraine is considered more of a European space country today than yesterday. Welcomeing Ukrainians is 27 ideas, in welcoming foreigners, immigrants, refugees and even companions. No. ”I made the same observations as Francois Gemenne, a researcher and expert on population migration. Evidence of this is for researchers: Many reports demonstrate solidarity with African students being turned back at the Polish border, primarily with white Ukrainians. Another reason to sympathize with François Gemenne, unlike the Syrian Civil War, is, “This time there are invading nations close to Europe. The threat seems to be far more concerned to us.» »

Will this solidarity be a pure philanthropic activity for Europeans? Helene Tiole wants to be realistic. “Like 2015 Syrian and German, Poland easily welcomes Ukrainians as they can be quickly integrated into the labor market.” François Gemenne adds that the majority of Ukrainian refugees live in Poland with their relatives, making it easier to control the flow of people.

What are the long-term implications?

Will this change in vision for refugees continue? Opinions differ. “The’war in Ukraine’reminds us that the crisis is primarily related to conflicting countries and not to countries that are accepting refugees, but during the 2015’immigration crisis’ in Syria. War was ignored. This refocus may continue, “Helene Tiole expects.

For Smaïn Laacher, the effect can be counterproductive. “And according to François Gemenne, only the future speaks.” It’s hard to know today if this crisis will make a big difference, but politically, the line is moving in Europe. They too. To see if it works with public opinion … “