Ukraine: Trevor Noah slams racial disparity in how refugees are treated by Europe

Ukraine: Trevor Noah slams racial disparity in how refugees are treated by Europe
Piano player brings musical relief to Ukraine refugees

Trevor Noah has slammed the double-standard between how African and Middle Eastern refugees are treated when fleeing to Europe in comparison to Ukrainians who are currently fleeing their country due to the Russian invasion.

While The Daily Show host said seeing refugees being welcomed and people in need receiving help gives him "a glimmer of hope," Noah couldn't help but note how "interesting" it is that Eastern Europe has been "so willing and able to accept a million people coming into their countries in just a few days when just recently they didn't seem to have any space for a different group of refugees."

Noah makes the argument in an eight-minute video published to The Daily Show's Twitter account, where it has quickly racked up 3.8 million views.

As a clip from 2015 plays showing Syrians crossing Europe, it appears refugees have not always been welcome, as one report said: "Poland that pledged to take in a number of the refugees, saying now that it is not going to do that."

A clip then played of Poland's Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki speaking in 2018 on refugees: "We will not be receiving migrants from the Middle East or North Africa in Poland."

There's even footage showing Hungarian camerawoman Petra Laszlo appearing to kick a young refugee who was attempting to flee a crowd.

"Hmm... that's really strange," Noah said. "When it's Syrians who are fleeing war, it's all [Noah in an Eastern European accent]: 'We do not have the space. Don't come.'"

Back in his normal accent, he challenges the double-standard: "But now there's space and people must come, what changed?"

While he acknowledged Ukrainians getting the help they need is a "good thing" Noah said: "Look, we don't have to speculate about why they're treating Ukrainians so differently to refugees in Africa or from the Middle East. It's because the prime minister of Bulgaria - he came out and said it right?"

Sign up to our free Indy100 weekly newsletter

The Bulgarian prime minister Kiril Petkov said last month on accepting European refugees: "These are not refugees we are used to... these people are Europeans. These people are intelligent, they are educated people..."

"Shocking thing to say," Noah said. "But at the same time, I will say I'm impressed that the prime minister of Bulgaria has found the time to get to know all one million refugees that have fled Ukraine in the past week. He must be very efficient at making small talk" he quipped.

Later on, a news report from Aljazeera then plays on how African and Indian students stuck in Ukraine are accusing officials of discriminating against them and preventing them from getting to the border. A man from Congo stuck in Ukraine after trying to get through the border explained to a reporter how he was told he would be given a gun "to fight for Ukraine."

"When you go to another country, you don't expect that they might be conscripting you into war," the presenter said in response to the latest clip and joked how tourist hotspots like The Lourve would get fewer visitors if they tried to conscript visitors to fight in a war.

"The bigger point is that there seems to be widespread discrimination against people of colour who are trying to flee a war zone and it's nuts. It's really nuts to see these border guards suddenly turn into club bouncers."

"Not to mention for the Russian army when they roll into Kyiv and then, there's only Black people left," as he jokingly pretends to be a confused Russian soldier: "Uh comrades, I think we took a wrong turn somewhere."

Noah addressed the anger online at the racism in Ukraine: "People are angry because they're like 'how can you let racism get in the way of getting people out of the way of war?

"But I think rather than this being a moment to turn on each other this refugee crisis should be a reminder that "refugee" is not a synonym for "brown person." Anyone could become a refugee, it's a thing that happens to you. It's not who you are.

"And who knows. You know, maybe one day, you might be a refugee. I hope it doesn't happen to you but it could. And if God forbid that day comes, wouldn't you want someone without any prejudice in their heart to open their doors to you and welcome you into their home, so that you could turn around and say 'eh thanks, I think I could do better."

It's not the first time Noah has called out the media coverage surrounding the Ukraine/Russia conflict, where Ukraine was described as a "civilised" country by a senior foreign correspondent for CBS News, Charlie D’Agata - who later apologised.

"Let's forget the racism—oh, how I wish we could forget about the racism. You do realize that, until very recently, fighting crazy wars was Europe's thing? That was Europe's entire thing. That's all of European history," Noah said in response to these reports.

The Independent has a proud history of campaigning for the rights of the most vulnerable, and we first ran our Refugees Welcome campaign during the war in Syria in 2015. Now, as we renew our campaign and launch this petition in the wake of the unfolding Ukrainian crisis, we are calling on the government to go further and faster to ensure help is delivered. To find out more about our Refugees Welcome campaign, click here. To sign the petition click here. If you would like to donate then please click here for our GoFundMe page.

The Conversation (0)