“These are not Syrian:” Racist Comments by Foreign Correspondents Covering Ukraine Spark Controversy

Several reporters considered that Ukrainian refugees deserve more empathy from Europe than refugees from "Syria or Afghanistan", according to the Shaam News Network.

Users on social media sharply criticized comments by foreign reporters on the situation in Ukraine as abusive and racist, particularly with regard to refugees fleeing the hell of Russian genocide. The criticism concerns the apparent abuse of Syrian refugees in particular. 

“Quite frankly, these are not refugees from Syria; these are refugees from neighboring Ukraine,” NBC correspondent Kelly Cobiella said in a controversial comment. Cobiella was responding to a news presenter’s question about the situation of Ukrainian refugees in neighboring countries. “These are Christians. They are white. They are very similar to people living in Poland.” 

CBS correspondent Charlie D’Agata apologized after he said during his live coverage of the Russian invasion from Kyiv that the attack on Ukraine could not be compared to the war in Iraq and Afghanistan. This is because he considered the Ukrainian conflict more “civilized.” 

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Ukraine is “not a place, with all due respect, like Iraq or Afghanistan, which have been in conflict for decades,” he said. “Ukraine is relatively civilized, relatively European—and I have to choose these words carefully as well. It’s a city where you don’t expect it (the war) to happen, or you hope it doesn’t.” 

D’Agata’s comments quickly spread on social media, with some calling them “racist” and “inaccurate.” Twitter users questioned why D’Agata considered it acceptable to compare the value of people’s lives and talk about who is “civilized.”.

Following these criticisms, the reporter expressed regret after appearing again on the air from Kyiv. He said: “I spoke in a way that I am sorry for, so I apologize.” D’Agata explained that he was trying to convey the idea that Ukraine has not experienced “this magnitude of conflict” in recent years, as distinct from conflicts, which have plagued other regions for many years.


This article was translated and edited by The Syrian Observer. The Syrian Observer has not verified the content of this story. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.


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