TEHRAN – As the cold winter season slowly sets in across Europe, the working and middle classes of society on the continent are struggling to pay their home heating bills. And with Ukrainian refugees enjoying a wide range of social benefits, including cheaper or free energy, there are emerging signs of dissatisfaction with Ukrainian refugees.
European households are among the victims of American actions that led to the military conflict in Ukraine. They are suffering from ever-increasing inflation driven by record high gas and oil costs.
In addition to rent and mortgages for the roof over their heads, Europeans also pay more for groceries, clothing, education, healthcare and many other services. This would explain why protests have erupted across the continent in opposition to the US-led NATO military alliance that sparked the devastating crisis in Eastern Europe.
But frustration is also growing that Ukrainian refugees receive financial assistance, free housing and many other benefits while ordinary Europeans have to pay more.
For example, according to the British government, Ukrainian refugees can immediately access universal credit (cash distributions) and employment assistance. They are also eligible for Housing Benefit, Pension Credit, Personal Independence Payment, Disabled Child Living Allowance and Carer’s Allowance, as well as Carer’s Allowance. assistance. Contribution-based Employment and Support Allowance and Jobseeker’s Allowance, free translation services are also available.
The hypocrisy is of course that the wars on Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan – led by the US, UK and EU countries – have unleashed a flood of refugees who had no entitled to little or no services. They were denied food and shelter as many refugees complained that the situation was better in war zones back home. Ukrainian refugees can expect to receive up to €400 per month in cash while Syrian, Iraqi and Afghan refugees have complained of receiving around €30 per month in cash assistance.
The growing social resilience towards Ukrainian immigrants among the middle class of European societies can be reflected in Germany, where the country’s opposition leader, Friedrich Merz, recently accused Ukrainian refugees of taking advantage of the welfare system by seeking a protection in the country.
“What we see is social tourism from these refugees to Germany, to Ukraine, to Germany, to Ukraine,” said Merz, the leader of the Christian Democrats of centre-right, to Bild TV in an interview, adding that “a large number” of the more than 1.1 million registered Ukrainian refugees in Germany were dealing with the state. “We have a problem here that is getting worse.”
Merz stressed that it was “unfair” for Berlin to pay for heating the homes of Ukrainian refugees while at the same time many working-class Germans simply cannot pay their energy bills. “It’s unfair and people are right to see it as unfair,” he said.
Germans are increasingly concerned about the impact of the war in Ukraine on their country’s economy, in particular soaring gas prices. The Covid crisis and Western sanctions against the Russian energy sector mean that the price of oil and gas in some European countries has more than doubled or even tripled.
Merz’s comments are a change from his previous comments that supported government support for Ukrainian refugees. His party, the Christian Democratic Union, has taken a growing lead in the polls.
Many municipalities in Germany would have been completely overwhelmed with the accommodation and care of refugees from Ukraine, who host around one million. Two-thirds of these refugees are housed in private accommodation or have rented their own apartment, making it a heavy burden.
The cost of train tickets, for example, has also seen incredible increases in some European countries. This aroused the greatest ire of commuters. This is when train operators across Europe are offering free rail transport to Ukrainians. Passengers with a Ukrainian passport or identity card are exempt from train ticket fees in Poland, Germany, Austria, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, France, Belgium and Denmark.
After Russia, Poland is widely believed to host the most Ukrainian refugees, but the protracted war with the fluid supply of Western weapons has taken its toll on Warsaw. Poles say they no longer want to support Ukrainian refugees for free. The authorities who had helped the refugees free of charge by providing them with accommodation are now increasingly refusing this aid.
Polish media quoted human rights ombudsman Marcin Vincek as warning that many refugees could end up homeless. The Poles cannot continue to help because of the costs. Recently, their financial situation has often deteriorated due to high inflation and rising prices, as well as a significant increase in the cost of maintaining an apartment or residential building.
Since the outbreak of violence in late February, around seven million Ukrainians have arrived in Poland, of whom 1.7 million still reside there.
Reports have now emerged that frustration is growing among Dutch people who are seeing Ukrainian refugees heat their homes for free as inflation in the Netherlands jumped in September to its highest level in decades, driven by soaring prices Energy. This is according to the statistics agency (CBS).
Consumer prices in the Netherlands rose 17.1% this month after August’s jump to 13.7% and energy prices in the eurozone’s fifth-largest economy were 114% higher % to those of September 2021, while food prices jumped by 10.5%.
Mass demonstrations and protests are now taking place in European countries, especially in Germany, France and the Czech Republic, in which people are asking politicians to withdraw from NATO and end the war in Ukraine. Just a few days ago, thousands of demonstrators gathered in the center of Paris to demand an end to France’s membership in NATO.
Last month, around 70,000 people demonstrated in the Czech capital, Prague, against their government, calling on the ruling coalition to do more to control soaring energy prices and expressing strong opposition to the European Union and to NATO, while chanting slogans in favor of Russia.
Protests are also increasing against arms deliveries to war zones. They call for the resumption of the peace talks which were temporarily held in March between the Russian and Ukrainian delegations. However, Western governments seem uninterested in ending this conflict, despite the heavy toll it takes on the public.
Experts say this will backfire on these Western governments as they begin to lose power one by one with voters angry at record inflation levels.
In the end, ethnic Ukrainians and Russians suffered the human cost of war and the damage to their homes and infrastructure. However, as the war drags on, the mood changes in Europe, shifting from sympathy for the Ukrainian refugees to what turns out to be growing annoyance.
Europeans cannot afford in terms of cost of living. The number of people falling into poverty is increasing dramatically and the war in Ukraine is raging.
As the European middle class sees Ukrainian refugees reaping the benefits they are denied, there are fears that anti-refugee sentiment will emerge across the continent and, as history has shown, political parties in extreme right are using the issue for political purposes.