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During an online discussion on 29 July, the Executive Director of Human Rights Watch (HRW), Kenneth Roth, accused western nations of discrimination against refugees from Afghanistan.
Throughout the discussion, Roth pointed out the double standard shown by western countries – specifically Europe but not excluding the US – in their treatment of Afghan refugees as opposed to those from Ukraine seeking refuge from the ongoing conflict between Moscow and Kiev.
The HRW director referred to the west’s treatment of Afghan refugees and those from Syria as Islamophobia, racism, and said that this treatment reflects a prejudice and hatred towards Muslims that “make us reminded of Hitler’s rule in Europe.”
Roth noted that Europe “has forgotten its commitment to humanity,” openly welcoming millions of Ukrainian refugees while sidelining and mistreating Afghans and Syrians.
He also made sure to mention Europe’s mistreatment of refugees and asylum seekers from other countries, including African nations, such as Sudan and Eritrea.
“You don’t see Ukrainian refugee camps; they are settled in people’s houses and other places. It can be clearly seen that Europeans treat not only Afghans but also refugees from Syria, Eritrea, Sudan, and other countries differently,” Roth said.
“I think that no other suitable words can be found for this … except the fear of Islam and racial discrimination,” he added.
After the start of the Russian military operation in Ukraine and the conflict between the two countries, western media outlets drew widespread condemnation from many across the globe for their blatantly biased, racist, and prejudiced coverage of the resulting refugee crisis.
In late February, CBS News senior foreign policy correspondent Charlie D’Agata stated on live TV that Ukraine “isn’t a place, with all due respect, like Iraq or Afghanistan, that has seen conflict raging for decades. This is a relatively civilized, relatively European … city, one where you wouldn’t expect that.”
European news networks, including French BFM TV and the UK’s BBC, also did not fail to promote similarly racist perspectives.
Alongside the racist media coverage, Europe and the US continued to enforce their discriminatory policy of sidelining refugees from Afghanistan.
According to a 20 April report by Foreign Policy, several refugees from Afghanistan were removed from their temporary homes funded by the German government to make way for Ukrainian refugees.
A week later, it was reported that the government of US President Joe Biden denied at least 85 percent of asylum request applications by Afghans who fled the country after the Taliban defeated the US-trained army last year.
Since the US froze Afghanistan’s foreign reserves following the Taliban victory, the country has been plunged into a devastating humanitarian and economic crisis.
Last week, a US delegation met with Taliban officials in Uzbekistan to discuss the release of $3.5 billion from Afghanistan’s international reserves.