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Syrian, Ukrainian refugees should receive same treatment, says UN's Syria commission chair

Chairman of the United Nations (UN) Commission of Inquiry on Syria, Paulo Pinheiro on March 2, 2020 in Geneva [FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP via Getty Images]
Chairman of the United Nations (UN) Commission of Inquiry on Syria, Paulo Pinheiro on March 2, 2020 in Geneva [FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP via Getty Images]

The UN Syria Commission chair Paulo Pinheiro has said that Syrian and Ukrainian refugees should receive the same treatment.

"There is an openness and generosity vis-a-vis the Ukraine that I don't criticise at all. They deserved it. But I would very much like that the same treatment will be applied to the Syrian refugees," Pinheiro said in an interview with Euronews.

At least 12 million people have fled Ukraine since the Russian invasion started on 24 February this year, with over five million now in neighbouring countries and seven million within Ukraine's borders.

It has been described as the worst refugee crisis since the Second World War and by May had pushed the number of forcibly displaced people around the world to 100 million for the first time on record, reported the UNHCR.

The EU has activated the Temporary Protection Directive under which Ukrainian refugees are granted a temporary residence permit in the EU, as well as access to healthcare and the right to work and study for up to three years.

READ: 1 dead after 3 migrant boats sink off Tunisia

Yet this directive was not activated for refugees from other countries including Syria or Afghanistan despite the war and pull out of Western forces which left thousands in need of a safe place to live.

The EU has struck deals with Egypt, Libya and Turkey to stop refugees reaching Europe, whilst some countries, including the UK, have detained refugees who do manage the journey.

Whilst Poland is welcoming Ukrainian refugees, it continues to prevent non-European refugees entering the country.

The Greek coastguard is pushing back refugees, whilst human rights groups are calling for an investigation into the death of 23 people who died trying to cross from Morocco into Spain's Melilla enclave after footage circulated on Twitter showing security forces beating men with sticks.

A recent report released by the UN says that over 300,000 Syrian citizens have been killed in the conflict between 1 March 2011 and 31 March 2021.

"Something that the report reveals very clearly is the absence of the protection of civilians. No faction, no party in the conflict in Syria cares about the protection of the lives of the civilians. That is the reality," Pinheiro said.

Syria remains the world's largest displacement crisis, according to UNHCR, with over 13 million people displaced abroad or within the country.

Coverage of Ukraine Refugee crisis is 'racist' - Cartoon [Sabaaneh/Middle East Monitor]

Coverage of Ukraine Refugee crisis is 'racist' – Cartoon [Sabaaneh/Middle East Monitor]

Categories
Europe & RussiaInternational OrganisationsMiddle EastNewsRussiaSyriaUkraineUN
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