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Jill Biden's visit to Ukraine: What makes West not see Yemeni mothers

Picture taken on May 08, 2022 shows US First Lady Jill Biden meeting Ukrainian refugees at a city-run refugee center in Kosice, Slovakia.

Human rights activists question a recent visit paid to Ukraine by Jill Biden, wondering why the United States' first lady would not pay the same attention towards other conflict-stricken countries such as Yemen.

Biden travelled to Ukraine under "a cloak of secrecy" on Sunday, and also paid a visit to a refugee camp housing Ukrainians in Slovakia.

"I wanted to come on Mother's Day," Biden told Ukrainian first lady Olena Zelenska. "I thought it was important to show the Ukrainian people that this war has to stop and this war has been brutal and that the people of the United States stand with the people of Ukraine. "

"I feel like this is another act of racism by the US government," said Neda Saleh, a Yemeni activist, adding, "Yemeni mothers are the same as other mothers invaded by foreign powers."

"They're all suffering from war and suffering from the displacement of their children. It just feels very racist and backhanded," she was quoted by the Middle East Eye news outlet as saying. 

Yemen, which has been gripped by a Saudi-led war since 2014, has lost hundreds of thousands to violence, hunger and disease.

According to the UN, some 24.1 million people - around 80 percent of the population - rely on humanitarian aid and protection to survive, while 58 percent of the population lives in extreme poverty.

Saleh said it was crucial that the Biden White House shine a light on the seven-year war on Yemen, saying there appeared to be a greater public acceptance of Ukrainian refugees, which was a comparatively new war.

Zaher Sahloul, president of MedGlobal, an organization that provides health care in disaster regions, said, "there is a double standard and underlying racism" when dealing with the Ukrainian crisis and the war in Yemen.

Robin Kirk, the faculty co-chair of the Duke Human Rights Center at Duke University, said Biden's visit to Ukraine "was done for show."

"If things are happening off-screen or in the dark, they can't be shown to people to illuminate the very real stakes involved here. I wish the first lady could go to Yemen… I wish she'd go to Burma and hang out with the Rohingya Muslims there because they really need this kind of attention and support… I wish she could go into the Palestinian refugee camps and really highlight the plight of the Palestinian people there. All of these things are clear humanitarian issues."

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