On February 24, 2022, the Russian military invaded Ukraine. The escalating conflict is causing a widespread humanitarian crisis, as civilians are injured, killed, or forced from their homes. This Teaching Idea is designed to help students explore one facet of this devastating war: the mounting refugee crisis. The UNHCR projects that more than 4 million Ukrainian people—10% of the population—will leave the country because of the Russian invasion, and as of March 8, 2022, half of the 2 million Ukrainian refugees who fled to other European countries are children.
European governments and private citizens have mobilized to help Ukrainian refugees. For example, the European Union plans to allow Ukrainian people to live and work in EU countries for up to three years, the Polish government is providing Ukrainians with healthcare and social assistance, and individual volunteers have assembled to provide free rides, food, and supplies. We can and should be inspired by these stories, and they also raise ethical questions about the different treatment migrants and refugees from other parts of the world, including Middle Eastern and African countries, have faced recently in Europe.
This Teaching Idea introduces students to the experiences of Ukrainian people forced to flee the war and highlights the inspiring ways governments and individual volunteers have stepped up to help Ukrainians. It also raises ethical questions about the treatment of refugees and migrants from non-European countries and asks students to consider how we can take care of ourselves and each other during this crisis.