UKRAINE – ‘a humanitarian crisis that highlights the cracks in society today’

As world leaders come together to voice their condemnation of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the world is shocked to see the number of people being murdered and displaced due to the catastrophic events of the past almost 2 weeks.

As we see the events unfold minute by minute via the world’s media broadcasters, our hearts go out to Ukrainians who have lost their homes, land and are on the verge of losing their country. As Russia raises schools, hospitals, apartment blocks and government buildings to the ground, we wonder what type of person would do something this horrific to a fellow human.

As most of us have not lived through the last World War, we regard the events of the past 2 weeks as the most horrific situation that we have lived through, as many media outlets are branding the Russia Ukraine War as the start of World War 3.

To this I say that the main stream media have covered this event more than any other and have highlighted this war more than any other before. What we should know is that during the past 60 years, there have been far bigger and greater crimes against humanity perpetrated by a variety of world leaders and countries all over the world and as catastrophic the events in Ukraine are, this humanitarian crisis has highlighted the cracks in the Western Alliance System when it comes to aid and assistance.

Today we see countries like Poland, Hungary, Romania, and even France and Britain change its immigration policies to allow easy access to Ukrainians to enter without much hindrance. We have seen world leaders like Prime Minister Boris Johnson, President Joe Biden, and President Emanual Macron voice their disgust and condemnation of Russia and have imposed the strictest of sanctions on Putin and Russia.

NATO, Germany, the United States, Britain, France and most of Europe and Eastern Europe have all pledged to arm the Ukrainian Army and Freedom fighters to resist the invading Russian Army. This war has really brought the Western Alliance Countries together in a unified manner to assist Ukraine during this war, even though Ukraine is not a member of NATO neither the European Union. Even neutral Switzerland have taken a stance against the Russian President and his close alliances by freezing bank accounts belonging to Russian Government Officials and Oligarchs.

President Vladimir Putin and the Russian Federation on the other hand have claimed that actions in Ukraine have been a peacekeeping mission and that they are undertaking military operations to free oppressed Ukrainian Separatists along the Eastern Ukrainian Russian Border. Putin has also claimed that they need to remove the Ukrainian Government due to them being Nazis who are oppressing the Ukrainian people.

Though the turmoil in Eastern Europe has turned out to be a nightmare for the Ukrainian people, we must remember that there are many wars being fought in various regions across the world like Yemen, Syria, Palestine, and Afghanistan. These wars have seen many casualties and fatalities as well as the displacement of millions of innocent children, men, and women. These wars have not seen half the publicity or sympathy by the West Alliance, let alone the opening of borders to refugees. Yet the saddest part is that most of these wars are still ongoing.

The question I ask today is not to diminish the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine, but what is the difference between a Ukrainian refugee and refugees from Syria, Palestine, Yemen, and Afghanistan. Besides the fact that the Eastern European citizen has blond hair and a lighter skin, what is the reason for the ill treatment of the refugees from the Middle East who have been suffering oppression, displacement, racism, and ethnic cleansing for many decades. Why have we not seen sanctions imposed on the oppressors of these people, why have we not seen borders opened to the refugee women, men and children who have been ostracized, maimed, and killed at the hands of invaders and oppressors.

As much as we all admire the efforts being undertaken by countries from around the world to make the lives of the Ukrainians easier, I hate to think that racism is the reason for its stance against many of the world’s population who find themselves in a worsened situation due to war.

This past week we’ve seen billions of Dollars being allocated for the relief for the Ukrainian people and armaments for defence against Russia by most of the first world countries around the world, yet many people wake up to starvation and homelessness, under extreme hostilities daily in occupied regions of the world. Yet the responsible government officials are accepted, and excuses made for them by world leaders.

The horrid events of the past 2 weeks have highlighted the fact that race, creed, and culture is still the deciding factor on who and where help will be rendered by the keepers of the world. Though we have moved on since Colonial Oppressive days in the world, the culture still exists and is very much alive.

As South Africans, it is very easy for us to recognise the trends of oppression and we identify this very much in our current world today. We stand with all the oppressed and disenfranchised people and communities of the world and stand with the people of Ukraine, Palestine, Syria, Yemen, and all fellow humans living under siege in the world today.

By Abdu-Raof Hanslo