Prince Amir Al Saud

The Continuing Saga of Syrian Refugees

The Continuing Saga of Syrian Refugees


Once again, Arab nations have been criticized strongly worldwide not only for allegedly ignoring or supporting terrorism but refusing to accept refugees from war-torn Syria. Ironically, primary Gulf States composed of Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates. Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, and Oman have turned down their fellow Sunni Muslims.

However, Riyadh offered to construct 200 mosques in the Federal Republic of Germany for Syrians who escaped to Europe. This is based on a report published by a Lebanese newspaper called Al Diyar. The move has caused extensive criticism in the entire euro zone. Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel announced in a press conference that around 200, 000 refugees have come into the country from Hungary by foot, bus and train. The United Nations projected that another ½ million will cross over the Mediterranean by the end of the year and another 450,000 in 2016.

Right now, the UN disclosed that the other countries that have taken in Syrian refugees are Turkey with 1.9 million because the two share a common border. Next is Lebanon with 1.1 million which is a 25 percent increase in the Lebanese population of 4.4 million. It is followed by Jordan with 629, 000 although this has produced widespread discontent among Jordanians. Iraq has welcomed some 249, 000 Syrians who are living in resettlement camps. Egypt has 132,000 at the moment.

Refugees Flock to Western Europe

The incursion of Syrians to Western European countries like Germany, United Kingdom, Belgium, and France is not simply a twist of fate. It seems that most of Syria’s neighbors in the Middle East have adopted the policy of “I only allow people whom I like to enter my house.” Perhaps, the refugees have a preference for these nations more than any other Arab nation. It is possible that they have an aversion to authoritarian governments like the UAE. These people, who yearn for freedom and safety, feel they are not appreciated in the Gulf region.

Nonetheless, there has been considerable attention on the failure of nations in the Western hemisphere to deal properly with the problem of hosting around four million Syrians who have been driven out of their own land because of the civil war. Some European governments were censured for offering safe haven to a few refugees and showing prejudice against Muslims in favor of Christians.

Incidentally, one of the major fears is the rise of Salafism doctrine or the Salafi movement in Europe which is a very conservative orthodox movement commonly associated with Sunni Islam. This doctrine espouses a fundamentalist approach to the Islamic culture. This can cast an influence on young and idealistic European Muslims. Another apprehension is the espousal of subversive ideas from refugees who may have terrorist leanings. These two possibilities have caused anxiety among democratic-loving citizens in Europe.

Strict Arab Immigration Laws

It is important to note that most Arab nations are said to have more stringent immigration laws compared to Western nations. Amnesty International underscored the fact that the six powerful Gulf countries have not given resettlement locations to their Syrian brothers. This is considered outrageous because of the nearness of these countries to Syria along with their massive resources.

Blame it on immigration policies and the selfish position of these oil monarchies. These states agitated the conflict further by bombing Yemen which is the poorest Arab country. It is also the most populated nation in the region with 27 million people. In fact, 80 percent of Yemenis are dependent on humanitarian assistance which is difficult to send because of its remote location. The only way to leave this country is by sea to Ethiopia and Somalia and Saudi Arabia at the North.

None of the six richest Middle East nations mentioned earlier have signed the 1951 Refugees Convention of the United Nations. This conference defines the word, refugee and describes the rights of these refugees as well as duties of states to protect them. Syrians need to apply for visas to enter these countries. Unfortunately, such visas are often disapproved. The only Arab states where Syrians can travel without visas are Jordan and Lebanon which accepted millions of Syrians to their territory. Yemen, Algeria, Sudan, and Mauritania have also become strict with entry laws. These are hardly preferred or practical destinations.

Lebanese Syndrome

The Gulf nations are also fearful of the Lebanese Syndrome. From 1970 to 1980, the influx of Palestinian refugees in this country was one of the causes of the Civil War. These six powerful states are scared of the fact that some Syrians will bring dissident ideas and result to instability in their respective regimes. The Gulf nations are also well-known for mistreating immigrants and cheap labor. That is why they opt for workers from India and the Philippines. This is very disadvantageous to the poor Syrians fleeing their country.        

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