The Ukraine Refugee Crisis and the Test of Humanity
By: Prema Rahman, MPAC Policy Analyst
We are in the midst of a global refugee crisis, with millions of families and individuals from all over the world, including South Sudan, Myanmar, Syria, Afghanistan, and, most recently, Ukraine, forced to flee their homes. These people have come face to face with the horrors of war, hunger, violence, and persecution. They had to give up all the comforts, familiarity, and sense of belonging one has from being home, to simply survive.
For nations and people who enjoy the privilege of stability and resources, it is a moral imperative to help the helpless. That is our duty as citizens of humanity.
More than 2.5 million Ukranians have now fled their homeland to seek refuge from the Russian invasion, an unprecedented rate of external displacement in this era. How we respond to this crisis and the overall global refugee crisis is a test of our humanity. For American Muslims and Muslims worldwide, it is also a test of our faith.
The history and teachings of Islam are steeped in the stories and lessons of forced migration. In fact, Prophet Muhammad and the early followers of Islam were refugees escaping persecution in Mecca, first welcomed into refuge by the African Christian King Nejashi of the Abyssinian empire, which now comprises modern day Ethiopia and parts of Eritrea. As a community that includes refugees from Afghanistan, Somalia, Iraq, Syria, Palestine, and more, American Muslims have an intimate understanding of forced migration. Many of us are also far too familiar with Russia’s history of breaching humanitarian and international law standards.
Russia has demonstrated a blatant disregard for sovereignty and human rights throughout the last few decades. Innocent Afghans, Georgians, Syrians, and, now Ukrainians, have all suffered from the ambitions of Russian leadership. As we are witnessing with daily news of the Russian military attacking hospitals, including maternity and children’s facilities, in Ukraine, efforts to appeal to Russia’s better judgment and reason are all but futile. What can we do, then?
The global community should come together to help shelter and alleviate the plight of Ukrainian refugees. Thankfully, it seems that European nations like Poland, have been welcoming Ukrainians with open arms. But other countries, such as the United Kingdom, are lagging behind. We need to make a concerted effort to house Ukrainians fleeing war. Otherwise, with the startlingly high influx of Ukrainian refugees increasing day by day, the nations who have opened their borders are bound to get overwhelmed and max out on their capacities.
It is also important to remember that motivations and struggles facing the Ukrainian migrants are also the very same that migrants from countries like Syria and Afghanistan are facing.
Islam teaches us that we are brothers in faith or in humanity. In Ukraine, we have brothers and sisters both in faith and in humanity and they need our support in their darkest moment. We must do our level best to help.