Wealthy Gulf States Have Accepted ZERO Syrian Refugees

Wealthy Gulf States Have Accepted ZERO Syrian Refugees

The Gulf states have taken in no refugees, despite international pressure
The Gulf states have taken in no refugees, despite international pressure

Egypt: 133, 000. Lebanon: 1.2 million. Turkey: 1.8 million. Jordan: 628,427. Iraq: 247, 861.

These figures denote the number of Syrian refugees that have been taken in by neighbouring Arab countries. Despite many facing their own political, social and economic crises, these nations have – to at least some extent – recognised the refugee situation for what it is: a humanitarian crisis on a considerable scale, that must be attended to immediately – both politically and in terms of material relief.

However, it appears a few Arab nations have counted themselves out of this collective effort to provide some immediate support. According to Amnesty International, “the six Gulf countries – Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman and Bahrain – have offered zero resettlement places to Syrian refugees.

This is despite the fact that these countries are in a uniquely perfect position to do so. Being both relatively accessible to Syrian refugees in terms of location, and as the most stable and resource-wealthy countries in the region, it is not unreasonable to expect the Gulf countries to be at the forefront of the (still far too limited) international effort to offer crisis relief.

This is not to mention the role that has, and continues to be, played by many of these countries in creating the political conditions responsible for the mass displacement we see today. There is strong evidence to suggest that the opposition of many of these countries – namely Saudi Arabia and Qatar – to Syria’s Bashar al-Assad has led to financial and military support for extreme militant groups operating in Syria.

Graphic showing the number of Syrian refugees taken in by Arab states
Graphic showing the number of Syrian refugees taken in by Arab states

Assad’s regime is relentlessly brutal, and is the reason many are fleeing – it must be unequivocally opposed. However, some of the groups being supported by these states, such as Da’esh and Jabhat al-Nusr, have been instrumental in contributing to the unliveable conditions we see in Syria today. This support does not necessarily happen on an institutionally sanctioned level (in other words, it is not official state policy), but rather emanates from influential individuals within these states.

The apparent indifference being shown by Gulf nations extends to even providing financial aid to international relief efforts – a role that would require even less effort than taking in refugees.

This financial support is desperately needed. In December of last year, the United Nations was forced to halt food aid to 1.7 million Syrian refugees due to lack of funding. A source disclosed to UK newspaper The Independent at the time their specific frustration with the wealthy Gulf’s absence from these efforts, stating: “It’s a long-running frustration that particularly with these crises in the Middle East, the donors who don’t seem to be coming forward are the Gulf states. They could be contributing more to the international humanitarian system.”

As the crisis worsens, some pressure is building on the Gulf states to play their role in crisis relief, particularly on social media – indeed, according to the BBC, the Arabic hash tag “#welcoming_Syrian_refugees_is_a_Gulf_duty was tweeted more than 33,000 times in the past week. However, given that none of these states are signatories of the UN’s 1951 Refugee Convention, which outlines the responsibilities of states to protect refugees, there is little legal leverage with which the Gulf’s current policy can be effectively challenged.

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  • Cairolive

    So how many refugees did the USA offer to take during this conflict?

    • Crystal Durham

      We have our own shame at the Mexican border, so we can’t say too much about who isn’t doing what, can we? Anyway, we are at a disadvantage with regard to Syria, being on the other side of the world and all… But it’s good to see humanity again.

      • Key

        Your country didn’t have a problem invading Iraq and Libya so why would it be difficult to help Syrian refugees? The answer is in the form a of a question. Why would a killer admit his guilt let alone offer help?

  • Alnitek Altair

    Syrians are inferior animals that dont deserve to be part of the superior gulf elites… apparently

    • Juliette

      That’s true. No country wants these killers. They had everything and turned on Assad for no reason. They r Da’esh them selves. And Lebanon is a good example, they came here as refugees and now they r killing and terrorising in Lebanon.

      • Alnitek Altair

        i was being sarcastic. And Im pretty sure most of these refugees didnt turn on Assad. Most of them were caught in the crossfires and are paying the price for the recklessnesses of a few people.

        • Crystal Durham

          You’re exactly right, Ainitek Altair. My Syrian friend tells me that he and his family just want the fighting to stop. He blames both sides because they’re caught in the middle.

  • Ebony E

    I don’t think the Israeli government would really want Arabs in their country….

    • Key

      It’s like saying the burglar who robbed your home can’t tolerate you being in your house including his new found neighbors. On the contrary, I don’t think Palestinians would want Jews running things in occupied Palestine.

      • Crystal Durham

        They ARE running things in occupied Palestine.

        • Key

          Which is what I mentioned above and the main reason why Palestinians can’t tolerate Jews.

    • JEELEN

      Arabs Israelis have been living (and voting) in Israel since 1947.

  • Karl Richter

    what about Israel??? being Jewish exclude this humanitarian efford?

    • Crystal Durham

      Wouldn’t this be a great opportunity for Israel to show their humanity?

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Dalia is an Egyptian writer and journalist. Currently, she is particularly interested in raising awareness about the historical and current labour and feminist movements in the Arab world.

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