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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UC Berkeley chapter.

I never thought I would be angry when I witnessed countries taking in more refugees. I never thought I would be furious when I saw innocent people getting the asylum they have the right to as stated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights Convention. I never imagined myself shaking my head when I saw Europe’s warm welcome to the Ukraine refugees who traveled far to seek safety.

However, this is a different kind of anger. I welcome the refugees, like the rest of the world has. It warms my heart to see the international engagement in helping civilians, and how nations and global institutions are condemning the war crimes Russia is exercising against the Ukrainian people. But we cannot forget what has been going on before this conflict and what is still going on.

The war in Syria has gone on for over 10 years now, and the country is in ruins. When 6.6 million people fled the country in need of urgent assistance, Europe did everything in its power to stop the immigration flows. A few years later the United States implemented a Muslim Ban that made sure Syrians did not stand a chance at the border. Arab and Muslim identifying people were victims of discrimination on every level. The stark contrast between the treatment of Ukrainian refugees and Arab or Muslim identifying refugees is apparent. Many were bullied in school, while the Ukrainian children were welcomed with applause by everyone at school when they arrived. 

No international institutions have condemned the war crimes against the Syrian people. We saw the same lack of global engagement last year when Palestine was attacked by Israel again — a conflict that even my mother can remember protesting against.

Two years ago, one of the biggest refugee camps in the world, the Moria migrant camp, lit on fire. Children were crying in their sleep due to the trauma the fire had caused. One of the richest countries in the world, Norway, decided that only 20 of the children should be allowed to seek asylum.

In addition, the Norwegian minister of foreign affairs expressed that the war in Ukraine could contribute to the most prominent humanitarian crisis we have witnessed since World War II. While this could be true, especially if one of the NATO countries gets attacked, currently the biggest humanitarian crisis is located in Yemen, and international organizations have stated that it is one of the most prominent “forgotten crises” of our time, proving that the international community has not done enough.

This is not a criticism of how the international community is acting towards Ukraine. It is a critique of how they haven’t done this in the past. It is a criticism of the racist motives that are involved in deciding who is worthy of asylum — who is worthy of safety. I encourage you to help the Ukrainian people in every way you can, but please make sure to not remain silent when people in need share a different culture or skin color than yourself. That should not determine their right to survival.

To educate yourself about global conflicts and learn more about how to help, be sure to check out these websites:

Help Palestine

Help Yemen

Help Ukraine

Help Syria

Fight poverty

Elise Sandvik

UC Berkeley '23

Hi! I'm currently studying global studies, and spend most of my time working with human rights. Besides that I have a love for fashion, art and creativity in general – and most important: storytelling. Ever since I discovered the art of journalism, I haven’t been able to put my pen down. Not just because I love writing, but because there are just too many stories to be told. Each unique, personal, and inspiring stories about individuals, projects, interests, or hobbies. These sorties deserve to be told – they deserve to be heard. Thank you for taking the time to read them. Elise