Ukrainian refugees are refusing sponsored accommodation places in diverse British cities because they feel unsafe living in neighborhoods where the residents are primarily Islamic, it has emerged.
That’s according to a report by the left-wing Channel 4 News broadcaster, which claims many Ukrainian women living in urban areas such as Birmingham are finding it difficult to settle into communities that are far more culturally diverse than they are used to back home.
Reporter Darshna Soni sat down with one sponsor who signed up for the U.K. government’s Homes for Ukraine, a scheme that saw homeowners with spare rooms paid by the British government to take in Ukrainian refugees. The sponsor, who lives in a predominantly Muslim borough of Birmingham, told the Channel 4 News reporter how one woman who stayed with her complained about there being “too many Muslims” in the area.
“We were quite shocked at how difficult she found different cultures. Too many Muslims, too many people with different skin colors,” the sponsor said of a Ukrainian woman who moved into her home along with her young child.
The Ukrainian woman’s child was enrolled at a local school where the majority of the children were Muslim, prompting the refugee to tell her sponsor, “He can’t be safe there. There’s not enough white kids, essentially.”
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“The majority of my neighbors are Muslims, and they are wonderful people,” the sponsor told Channel 4 News, adding that she urged her Ukrainian guest to give them a chance. The placement, however, was ended prematurely.
Speaking to the news channel following a meeting of a support group set up to help Ukrainians better understand Britain’s multi-ethnic culture, one Ukrainian woman named Olga said it was “amazing” to see so many people of diverse backgrounds, claiming she just wasn’t used to living in that environment.
Another Ukrainian woman, Oksana, said she has moved “from the best area of Kyiv to the worst area of Birmingham,” and admitted she was “very afraid because it was not usual for me.”
The reporter told Oksana “many people would be very offended” that she felt unsafe in the area, to which she replied she had looked up police crime data that reported cases of Islamic terrorism.
The report revealed Oksana, too, has now moved away from Birmingham to a new area.
There have been numerous reports of Ukrainian refugees finding it difficult to acclimatize to more diverse communities across Europe, including in Sweden where some women told local media shortly after arriving that they wished to return home over fears for their safety.
Shortly after war broke out in Ukraine last February, some humanitarian workers revealed they were having difficulty in filling buses in the Polish capital of Warsaw destined for Stockholm over safety concerns.
“People are vulnerable; they hear one thing, and then it becomes a reality,” said one charity worker.