Worrying About The Refugee Crisis In Europe Is Evidence Of ‘White Privilege’

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Amber Randall Civil Rights Reporter
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Worrying over the refugee crisis in Europe, while ignoring the larger number of refugees residing in Africa is a prime example of “white privilege,” according to a Washington Post op-ed.

The Washington Post featured an op-ed adapted from Mehdi Hasan’s Reality Check segment on Al Jazeera English.

Hasan argues that more attention is paid to the refugee crisis in Europe, even though Africa currently is home to more refugees. Sub-Saharan Africa alone has 4.4 million refugees, compared to the 1.3 million refugees Europe took in this year.

“White privilege” explains why Europe’s refugee crisis gets more attention than Africa’s refugee status, Hasan maintains.

“This is not just navel-gazing hyperbole but white privilege, plain and simple. How else to describe a collective tendency to obsess over a refugee crisis in (rich, white) Europe, rather than in (poor, black) Africa?” Hasan asks. “In what warped world are thousands of penniless and homeless refugees considered to constitute a crisis only when they wash up on the shores of western Europe?”

Hasan points out that the British media went hysterical over decisions to close the 10,000 person “Jungle” camp in Calais, France, but no one mentioned the potential closing of Kenya’s Dadaab refugee camp, a move that would impact almost 300,000 refugees.

No one pays attention to these African issues because these refugees are “unpeople,” Hasan explains.

“We don’t often hear about these particular refugees or asylum-seekers, do we? They are, to borrow a term from British historian Mark Curtis, ‘unpeople,’ the poor, nonwhite residents of the developing world who tend to be ignored by the Western media,” Hasan maintains.

Hasan writes that while Germany’s open door policy towards Syrian refugees receives a lot of publicity, it’s failed the refugees because many of them have not been able to find work. The world, Hasan contends, ignored Tanzania’s success with granting refugees citizenship in their country.

“Yet Europe’s refugee crisis continues to suck up all the oxygen of global publicity … .” “The double standard is as brazen as it is shameful,” Hasan writes.

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