‘The UK has two different ways of treating refugees,’ argues caller

25 March 2023, 16:41 | Updated: 25 March 2023, 16:44

Caller: 'assumptions' are made about Ukrainian refugees

By Ellen Morgan

This caller thinks refugees who come to Britain receive different treatment – depending on their skin colour.

In a discussion about whether the UK has created a “two-tier” system of compassion for those seeking asylum, Hassan in Cambridge told Sangita Myska that he thought white refugees “arrived without a visa” were straight away able to “start working,” and finding accommodation in Britain was easier because “people who put them up are given subsidies.”

In contrast, he said, refugees from countries like Iraq are often forced to arrive in small boats, because the “legal means” are limited or too slow. He explained to Sangita that someone who is a “pro-democracy activist” somewhere like Afghanistan “fearing for his life” doesn’t have the time to wait for legal routes out of the country.

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“We treat them very differently,” he emphasised. “The media treats them very differently.”

Hassan went on to compare the “leeway” that the British public have granted refugees from Ukraine, and lamented that they were often “not willing” to make the same assumptions about people who come to the UK from Iraq or Afghanistan.

He took issue with asking why those arriving in small boats don’t stay in France, which is a “safe country.”

“If we made a similar argument about all Ukrainian refugees staying in Poland, that would be stupid,” he said.

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Hassan mentioned the Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper, who said she was confident that Ukrainian refugees will go back to their country once the war with Russia is over. He used this as an example of the assumption that the UK makes about white refugees.

Sangita interjected to say it was “uncomfortable” to “assume” that Ukrainian refugees will want to return to their country, saying she thought those who have “fled the war” and have built their lives here “with the good grace of government” should be welcome to stay.

“I have no problem with them spending the rest of their lives here,” she added.