Muslim Migrants Hide in Poland Forest, Face Death

muslims in syria
Syrian refugees arrive in Lebanon after fleeing their homes in western Syria. UNHCR/A.McConnell

Vice News recently did a report on the conditions of migrants attempting to cross an untamed forest in Poland. The photo journal and interview featured a young engineer from Syria who had been suffering from hypothermia while hiding from security agents in a makeshift tent and a man from Yemen who had been beaten. It also mentioned people who had gotten lost and died in the forest, while trying to reach Europe.

According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, or UNHCR, Europe has been host to 24% of all migrants, as of the last count in 2022. This percentage includes a large number of Ukrainian refugees. As for those from other nations, they brave harrowing journeys, detentions, prejudice and inhospitable conditions, then risk being thrown out, deported to their home countries or resettled without sufficient assistance. The question that remains is, why don’t Muslims go to Muslim countries?

They do, but the figures are not always apparent. UNHCR migrant entry figures for Europe actually include those for Turkey, even though Turkey is not a member of the European Union. Turkey, a Muslim-majority nation, greatly expands the charitable appearance of Europe, as Turkey is the top host of refugees in the world. High-income, western European nations mostly accepted  Ukranians in 2022, not refugees from Muslim-majority countries.

“Türkiye remained the largest refugee-hosting country in the world, with 3.6 million refugees at end-2022, over 10 percent of all refugees,” states the UNHCR. “Germany hosted nearly 2.1 million, 6 percent of all refugees globally…Over 90 percent of all refugees in the region [Asia and the Pacific] are hosted in just three countries: the Islamic Republic of Iran (3.4 million), Pakistan (1.7 million) and Bangladesh (952,400).”

The Turkish government claims over 47 million refugees entered Turkey in 2022 compared to ~24 million in 2021.

Wealthy Muslim nations, on the other hand, hosted relatively few refugees. According to the Integral Human Development website: “In 2022, 335 persons with refugee status and 13,483 asylum seekers were registered in Saudi Arabia.” 

IHD also states, “As of 2019 there were between 1,247 and 2,800 refugees and 7,270 asylum seekers in the UAE,” but they were not from war-torn areas. Many of the refugees in the United Arab Emirates are also subjected to human trafficking and forced labor. As for Qatar, they hosted only “around 272 UNHCR-registered refugees and 100 asylum seekers in 2019.”

This information changes the perspective of untold numbers of Muslim refugees finding a place in western Europe. And with refugee restrictions in the US, only around 12,000 arrived in the United States during fiscal year 2023, according to the Migration Policy Institute. 

According to the UNHCR, most refugees flee to places that are close, not far away. “At the end of 2022, 70 percent of refugees, including people in refugee-like situations and other people in need of international protection, were hosted by neighbouring countries.”

Nevertheless, many migrants prefer to die trying to reach Europe, are turned away or suffer heavy discrimination.