Not since the II World War have we seen this dramatic images of thousand and thousands of people trying by all means to escape the civil war that we, the West have created in Iraq, Libya and Syria. The images move even the most cold-hearted as these poor people of all social backgrounds leave their countries with nothing and in the hope of reaching safety.
We have successfully changed the regimes of terrible dictators in Iraq and Libya to replace them by a civil war. In fact both these states can be considered failed states. In Syria, Assad still manages to hold on to part of his power thanks to the Russians and Chinese but at a terrible human cost as Syria is in the midst of a bloody civil war with no end in sight.
So these circumstances have created a refuge crisis. Europe has been accused of not doing enough and of reacting late to the crisis but having said this we have accepted close to 400.000 refuges to date. Europe has also been accused of preferring Christian refugees to Muslim ones and though the followers of both religions are victims of this tragedy, it is my opinion that the Christians should be accepted first in order to protect them from the radicals in the countries where they are escaping from.
The governments of the less wealthy Muslim countries such as the Kingdoms of Morocco and Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt and Tunisia have behaved themselves with incredible generosity in this crisis and all have accepted large numbers of refugees though their resources have been put to the limit. Bravo for them but the question now is why the 6 wealthiest Muslim countries (Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Oman, Bahrein, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates) do not feel any empathy for these hundreds of thousands of people who follow their religion and that in need of desperate finding a place to restart their lives? Why are they not moved by images like the following one?
This six countries have not offered to resettle a single refugee and I find this outstanding as it goes against the teachings of their Holy book. So why Europe is criticized for taking only close to 400.000 refugess these 6 wealthy Muslim countries so far have practically not even been rebuked for their uncharitable attitude toward this terrible suffering.
According to the Washington Post:
“That’s a shocking figure, given these countries’ relative proximity to Syria, as well as the incredible resources at their disposal. As Sultan Sooud al-Qassemi, a Dubai-based political commentator, observes, these countries include some of the Arab world’s largest military budgets, its highest standards of living, as well as a lengthy history — especially in the case of the United Arab Emirates — of welcoming immigrants from other Arab nations and turning them into citizens.
Moreover, these countries aren’t totally innocent bystanders. To varying degrees, elements within Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the U.A.E. and Kuwait have invested in the Syrian conflict, playing a conspicuous role in funding and arming a constellation of rebel and Islamist factions fighting the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
None of these countries are signatories of the United Nations’ 1951 Refugee Convention, which defines what a refugee is and lays out their rights, as well as the obligations of states to safeguard them. For a Syrian to enter these countries, they would have to apply for a visa, which, in the current circumstances, is rarely granted. According to the BBC, the only Arab countries where a Syrian can travel without a visa are Algeria, Mauritania, Sudan and Yemen — hardly choice or practical destinations.
A spokesman for UNHCR, the U.N.’s refugee agency, told Bloomberg that there are roughly 500,000 Syrians living in Saudi Arabia, though they are not classified as refugees and it isn’t clear when the majority of them arrived in the country.
Like European countries, Saudi Arabia and its neighbors also have fears over new arrivals taking jobs from citizens, and may also invoke concerns about security and terrorism. But the current gulf aid outlay for Syrian refugees, which amounts to collective donations under $1 billion (the United States has given four times that sum), seems short — and is made all the more galling when you consider the vast sums Saudi Arabia and the U.A.E. poured into this year’s war effort in Yemen, an intervention some consider a strategic blunder.
As Bobby Ghosh, managing editor of the news site Quartz, points out, the gulf states in theory have a far greater ability to deal with large numbers of arrivals than Syria’s more immediate and poorer neighbors, Lebanon and Jordan:
The region has the capacity to quickly build housing for the refugees. The giant construction companies that have built the gleaming towers of Dubai, Abu Dhabi, and Riyadh should be contracted to create shelters for the influx. Saudi Arabia has plenty of expertise at managing large numbers of arrivals: It receives an annual surge of millions of Hajj pilgrims to Mecca. There’s no reason all this knowhow can’t be put to humanitarian use.
No reason other than either indifference or a total lack of political will. In social media, many are calling for action. The Arabic hashtag #Welcoming_Syria’s_refugees_is_a_Gulf_duty was tweeted more than 33,000 times in the past week, according to the BBC.”
I could not agree more with this point of view.
As the columnist Qassemi writes: “The Gulf must realize that now is the time to change their policy regarding accepting refugees from the Syria crisis. It is the moral, ethical and responsible step to take.”