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Ukraine Crisis

Europe faces large-scale refugee crisis

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Europe is facing its biggest refugee crisis in years as Ukrainian civilians flock to neighbouring countries to escape Russian aggression

But some have expressed concern over the treatment of refugees deemed to be people of colour, with reports of widespread discrimination.

There are now over 800,000 refugees that have fled Ukraine with some predicting that this number could rise to 4 million.

The European Union has relaxed its normally stringent border rules, assuring that they are accepting refugees with open arms.

Neighbouring countries to the West of Ukraine have bared the brunt of this influx, including Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Hungary and Moldova.

The majority have headed to Poland with nearly half a million seeking refuge there.

But there has been some criticism aimed at these countries.

There are reports that some African citizens are being denied access to safety and are largely being discriminated against at train stations and border posts.

Ukraine has a large number of international students and workers, thousands of them being African.

The UN Refugee agency has even urged authorities in countries neighbouring Ukraine to open their borders to African citizens fleeing the conflict.

The African Union has expressed how disturbed they are by these reports.

Ukraine has responded to this alleged discrimination, the country’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba tweeted that an emergency hotline has been established for African, Asian and other students wishing to leave Ukraine because of Russia’s invasion.

They also said they are working intensively to ensure their safety and speed up their passage.

Witnesses in Poland have reported seeing refugees who looked to be people of colour being harassed by who appeared to be self-identified right-wing nationalists in the city bordering Ukraine.

According to The United Nations Human Rights Council, anyone who looked to be African or Arab was targeted at the city’s train station, where thousands of refugees were passing through.

One reporter says extremists were shouting at these people telling them to get out of the country and even physically assaulting them.

Some discrimination has been expressed by people in politics and even in the media as well.

Discrimination expressed in the media

Bulgaria’s Prime Minister, Kiril Petkov, addressed Ukrainian refugees and even told journalists earlier in the week that “these are not the refugees we are used to, these people are Europeans”.

He said these refugees are intelligent, they are educated people and that this is not the refugee wave we have been used to, people were not sure about their identity, people with unclear pasts, who could have been even terrorists.

This sort of sentiment has been seen in media reports.

One reporter from CBS News says in comparison to Middle Eastern and African countries, Ukraine is a relatively civilised nation.

The reporter later apologised for any offence he caused and said he should never have compared conflicts in the first place.

One Al Jazeera English presenter was also caught making similar statements, pinpointing the uniqueness of the refugee crisis being that most are what he called middle-class people.

Many people have raised concerns about the racism and Islamaphobia now being widely expressed.

Some of these countries had tough anti-immigration laws and are suddenly allowing a large number of refugees into their countries.

The EU has announced that refugees will have the right to live and work in European countries for up to three years.

This was announced by the European Commission’s president Ursula Von der Leyen under the new emergency plan in response to what is Europe’s biggest refugee crisis this century.

Savannah Pocock contributed to this report

Media

Body behind Eurovision “understands the disappointment” over next host city

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Ukraine’s Kalush Orchestra won the Eurovision contest in May, capturing the hearts of the world

After taking out the win, that would mean Ukraine would host the competition next year.

But the European Broadcasting Union announced last week it could not be held in Ukraine following Russia’s invasion.

The body behind Eurovision now says it “understands the disappointment” over its decision not to hold next year’s song contest in Ukraine.

The EBU said it was in talks with the BBC to host the contest in the UK.

That’s because British entrant Sam Ryder came second in this year’s contest with his single Spaceman.

The announcement was met with disappointment by Ukrainians but the E-B-U doubled down on its position, saying in a statement that it “fully understands the disappointment that greeted the announcement”.

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Business

Nike to fully exit Russia

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U.S. sportswear maker Nike is making a full exit from Russia, three months after suspending its operations there, the company said in an emailed statement Thursday

The sportswear giant had said back in March that it would suspend operations at all the stores it owns or operates there.

On Thursday (June 23) the firm said it would leave the country altogether.

In a statement, Nike said it would scale down over the coming months.

The move is largely symbolic for the company, which gets less than 1% of its revenue from Russia and Ukraine combined.

It says any stores that are still open there are run by independent partners.

In May, Russian media reported that Nike had not renewed agreements with Inventive Retail Group, its largest franchisee there.

Now the full exit lputs Nike in line with other major western brands such as McDonald’s and Google.

Foreign companies seeking to leave face the prospect of new laws being passed that will allow Moscow to seize assets and impose criminal penalties.

That has prompted some businesses to accelerate their departure plans.

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Ukraine Crisis

New candidates – Ukraine and Moldova one step closer to joining EU

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Ukraine and Moldova have officially been granted E-U candidate status, moving the nations one step closer to joining the union

At a European leaders meeting in Brussels, the decision comes nearly four months after Ukraine’s Zelensky launched his country’s bid to join the bloc, and deals a major blow to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

But the Kremlin has been acting as though it’s no big deal, with Putin claiming he has “nothing against” the possible membership, saying it’s Ukraine’s “sovereign decision” to join or not.

Ukrainian President Zelensky has welcomed the move, calling it “a unique and historic moment” and says his country’s future is in the EU.

European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen has declared it “a good day for Europe”.

While candidate status is the first official step toward E-U membership, it can take many years to join and there’s no guarantee the process will be successful.

The process can also go into reverse, if a future Ukrainian government fails to implement certain reforms on the rule of law and its economy.

But the Commission president has hope.

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