Arab Governments Not Doing Enough For Syrian Refugees

While much of the media attention has been focused on what European governments and citizens are doing for Syrian refugees fleeing the violence that has destroyed their homeland, people have begun to notice that Arab governments are not nearly as readily opening their doors as their European counterparts.

As European governments maneuver their resources to shelter Syrian refugees, or at least allow them to cross over to other European countries, far fewer Arab governments are sheltering Syrians fleeing the civil war. And even those few Arab countries that are caring for Syrians within their borders are becoming more reluctant to open their borders to any more refugees.

Before the disheartening photo of the Syrian boy attracted the world’s attention and compelled more European governments to become more tolerant toward the influx of hundreds of Syrian refugees, an Amnesty International article published last December mentioned that 3.8 million Syrian refugees, 95 percent of the Syrian refugees population, were receiving help in the neighboring countries of Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, and Iraq, as well as Egypt.

Turkey alone sheltered 1.6 million Syrian refugees by December 2014.

According to Amnesty International, however, more affluent and wealthy Arab governments have accepted far less Syrian refugees onto their land.

“The six Gulf countries – Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Bahrain – have offered zero resettlement places to Syrian refugees.”

Those countries represent the most oil-rich countries in the region.

The issue has even prompted Human Rights Watch Executive Director Kenneth Roth to post a series of tweets harshly criticizing the governments of those nations.

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Brookings Institute fellow Luay al-Khateeb also posted an infographic illustrating the distribution of Syrian refugees among Arab and neighboring countries. (Notice how even Iraq, with its own violent conflict with ISIS, has been sheltering tens of thousands of Syrian refugees.)

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The governments of the Gulf countries have claimed that they have opened their doors for Syrians, without explicitly saying that they are welcoming Syrian refugees. A BBC News article published recently reported that Saudi Arabia said it currently hosts more than 500,000 Syrian nationals. According to the BBC News, most, if not all, of these Syrian nationals enter the Gulf countries as migrant workers and not as Syrian refugees.

Time magazine says most, if not all, Syrian refugees today are on the move to Europe rather than neighboring and more familiar Arab countries for fear of oppression in those countries, as well.

As the violence in Syria continues to ravage the country, and as Arab governments refuse to implement an open-door policy for the suffering Syrian refugees searching for shelter throughout the world, Europe may be their only hope, even if it means risking everything for it.

[Photo by Milos Bicanski/Getty Images]