Spanish footballer Héctor Bellerín has asked why people are more concerned about the Ukrainian invasion when atrocities have been occurring in Yemen and Palestine for years.
Bellerín, who plays as a right-back for Real Betis while on loan from English club Arsenal, spoke to La Media Inglesa about all things on and off the football pitch – including some big issues like the invasion of Ukraine.
“It is quite difficult to see that we are more interested in this war than in others,” the 27-year-old explained to the news outlet.
“I don’t know if it is because they are more like us or because the conflict can affect us more directly both economically and in terms of refugees.”
Bellerín went on to compare the volume of media coverage on the conflict in Ukraine with other wars going on around the world, including wars in Yemen, Iraq, and Palestine – to illustrate his point.
“The Palestinian war has been completely silenced, no one speaks about it,” he added.
“Yemen, Iraq… now Russia not being able to play in the World Cup is something that other countries have faced for many years.”
The footballer went as far to call those who have turned a blind eye to other wars across the Middle East ‘racist’.
“It is racist to have turned a blind eye to other conflicts and now to have this position,” he said.
“It also reflects a lack of empathy for the number of lives lost in many conflicts and we are prioritizing those that are near to us.”
Bellerín’s questions come as the conflict in Yemen enters its seventh year.
The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) estimates the war has caused the deaths of nearly a quarter of a million people, with millions of Yemeni people being plunged into the largest humanitarian crisis in the world.
Fighting between the Saudi-led coalition and Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen continues to cause serious harm to civilians; displacing 4.2 million people and blocking access for humanitarian groups to supply aid to more than 20.7 million people.
Meanwhile, in Gaza, the Israeli occupation forces imposed an immoral siege for more than 13 years, where UN officials say ‘two million people have been forcibly isolated from the rest of the world’.
According to current United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees data, more than 3.6 million refugees have fled Ukraine since the invasion by neighboring Russia on February 24.
NATO estimated on March 23 that the Russian death toll in Ukraine could be as high as 15,000 Russian soldiers in only four weeks, according to PBS.
On the flip side, the most recent data released by Ukrainian president Vlodomyr Zelenszyy indicates that about 1,300 Ukrainian servicemen had been killed in action.