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500,000 Ukrainian Refugees Are Headed to Fortress Europe

Since the beginning of the Russian invasion, more than 500,000 Ukrainians have left the country to seek shelter in Europe, adding to the millions of refugees that have fled similar wars since the beginning of the century.

Jorge Remacha

February 28, 2022
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A woman with two children crossing the Slovak-Ukrainian border in Ubla
Photo: Peter Lazar/AFP

According to the U.N Refugee Agency, more than half a million Ukrainians have fled the country since the beginning of the Russian invasion, and at least another 160,000 have been internally displaced. Many of the countries these refugees are fleeing to, including Hungary and Poland, have been the sites of strong repression against immigrants in recent years.

So far more than 150,000 Ukrainians have reached Poland, 70,000 have arrived or passed through Hungary, and 40,000 have reached Romania, Moldova, or Slovakia, among other countries. The UN also estimates that if the war were to continue to escalate or drag on, as many as four million people, or almost ten percent of the population, could flee Ukraine. Such a mass exodus would put Ukrainian refugees up against one of the most militarized borders and one of the most repressive anti-immigration regimes in the world.

Currently there are hundreds of thousands of people either waiting in cities for trains or buses to transfer them to the border in kilometer-long traffic jams on the border highways or are crossing borders on foot. Those migrants that are driving or crossing on foot are particularly susceptible to the elements and possible abuse or violence within and outside Ukraine. While it seems that most Ukrainians are so far being welcomed into these countries as refugees, Black immigrants and African students have reported that they have been threatened and harassed by Ukrainian soldiers and denied entry into Poland.

These thousands of refugees are only a small portion, however, of the 37 million refugees who have been forced to flee their countries since the beginning of the century. These migrants have been displaced by a variety of catastrophes ranging from climate-induced natural disasters, to economic crises, but war remains one of the major drivers of forced migration. The European imperialist countries, together with the U.S. and various regional powers, have been waging wars and plundering the resources of African and Middle-Eastern states for decades, creating the very immigration crisis they claim to be overwhelmed by. Russia’s reactionary invasion of Ukraine, in large part the result of U.S. and NATO aggression, is just the latest such instance. . 

Even as hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians flee, the EU and the United States have continued to provide military aid to Ukraine. In recent months this has been reinforced by sending troops directly to the Black Sea, and in recent days to NATO countries in the Baltics. The so-called “progressive” Spanish government has been an enthusiastic part of this war-mongering deployment, dispatching 800 troops, tanks, and at least three warships to the Eastern Mediterranean ready for entry into the Black Sea.

That is why we revolutionary socialists call to open the borders to all those fleeing war and misery, and to mobilize for an immediate end to the war. And that is why working people everywhere must demand that Russian troops leave Ukraine, that the U.S. with draw all of its troops form Europe, and end its sanctions against Russia, which only hurt working people, not the oligarchs.

The possibility of an independent Ukraine is inextricably linked to the struggle against the reactionary policies of both sides and to a socialist perspective. The possibility of stopping the reactionary wars and the migration crises they generate is ultimately linked to ending imperialist domination throughout the world. 

Originally published in Spanish on February 28 in La Izquierda Diario

Translated and revised by James Dennis Hoff

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