Treat all refugees with the same compassion

People across Europe welcomed Ukrainians fleeing the war in their homes with open arms. Why was the same compassion not afforded to me when I was a refugee, asks writer and activist Nhial Deng.

In 2010, I had to flee Ethiopia after my village was attacked. I woke up early in the morning and heard gunshots. I saw houses burning. I saw someone bleeding on the ground. I witnessed a lot of brutal violence.

In the end, I found a way out; I survived. But I ended up locked up in a refugee camp for years and years.

Now, I watch people across Europe welcoming Ukrainians fleeing the war into their homes. And I can’t help but wonder, how come no one showed me the same compassion? How come no one offered me a place to stay so that I wouldn’t be stuck in a refugee camp for a decade?

Many have argued those in the West welcomed Ukrainian refugees with open arms because they looked like them – and maybe this is true. But it does not mean it always has to be the case.

South Sudanese activist and writer Nhial Deng explains why he believes the war in Ukraine can be an opportunity for the world to learn to treat all refugees the same, no matter where they come from.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial stance.