In 1966 the United Nations established the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination six years after South African police killed 69 unarmed protesters in the Sharpeville massacre in then-segregated South Africa. Since then, this special day is observed on March 21 each year, kicking off a whole week of activities highlighting the problems of racism and discrimination against people of color in general and people of African descent in particular. As our chart based on our Statista Global Consumer Survey shows, many European countries still have a long way to go when it comes to acceptance and integration.
Swedes in particular see immigration as an important issue that needs to be tackled, with 44 percent of respondents naming it as one of the biggest challenges their country faces. Austria and Italy come in second with 39 and 38 percent, respectively, followed by Spain, Finland and France. In Germany, the European country generating the biggest headlines with its open border policy amidst the refugee movement of 2015 following escalations in the Syrian civil war, one third of the population thinks immigration is a pressing issue.
According to some experts, the invasion of Ukraine shows the double standard at play in many European countries when it comes to immigration issues. Necessary humanitarian aid, housing and job opportunities are extended to fleeing Ukrainians without hesitation, while refugees from other regions like Syria and the African continent are allegedly often seen as alien and a burden on the social safety nets by residents of the corresponding countries, even when fleeing civil wars in their own nations and making up a small percentage of the country's inhabitants. Germany, for example, saw about 745,000 people seeking asylum at the height of the migrant wave in 2016. This amounted to 0.9 percent of the total population, although the number of unreported people skirting official registration was likely higher.