Revealed: How the five wealthiest Gulf Nations have so far refused to take a single Syrian refugee
- WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT
- Four million Syrians have fled, most live in Middle Eastern refugee camps
- More than 30,000 have risked their lives to reach European shores in 2015
- Saudi Arabia, UAE, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain have resettled ‘zero’ refugees
- Amnesty International described their inaction in the crisis as ‘shameful’
More than four million Syrians have been forced to escape the never-ending civil war ravaging their country and the barbaric terror group carving a bloody trail across the Middle East.
The vast majority live in overcrowded refugee camps in Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt and Iraq – all under threat from ISIS – and record numbers are making the perilously long journey to Europe.
Yet, as debate rages between politicians in Europe over how many they should take, nearby super-wealthy Gulf nations of Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Qatar, Kuwait and Bahrain have refused to offer sanctuary to a single Syrian refugee.
Amnesty International’s Head of Refugee and Migrants’ Rights, Sherif Elsayid-Ali, described their inaction as ‘shameful’.
He said: ‘The records of Gulf countries is absolutely appalling, in terms of actually showing compassion and sharing the responsibility of this crisis… It is a disgrace.’
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Exodus: Wealthy gulf nations Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Kuwait and Bahrain have not offered to house a single one of four million Syrian refugees (pictured) to have fled the war-torn country
Fury: A political cartoon pointed fingers at the Gulf nations for their inaction, with a caption which read: ‘Refugees welcomed by: Saudi: 0, Kuwait: 0, Qatar: 0, Emirates: 0, Bahrain: 0’
New homes: Most of the Syrian refugees who travel to Europe via countries like Libya and Turkey are looking to reach Germany
Left with nothing, these refugees travel thousands of miles from the Middle East, through central Europe and across the Mediterranean to reach countries like Germany and Austria.
Others have tried to sneak on boats, trains and trucks crossing the Channel to the UK.
Almost 3,000 have died trying to reach Europe by sea this year, but hundreds more attempt the same life-threatening journey with their babies and young children every single night.
The tragic death of three-year-old Aylan Kurdi who drowned trying to reach the Greek island of Kos from Bodrum, Turkey, inspired a seismic shift in the European attitude towards the 313,000 people who have reached the continent this year.
None have been allowed to enter the (relatively) nearby Gulf nations, who all rank in the world’s top 50 GDPs and have a combined military budget of more than £65billion, according to Arab expert Sultan Sooud al-Qassemi.
He said: ‘The Gulf must realise 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.
None of the Gulf countries signed the 1951 Refugee Convention which defines a refugee ‘outside the country of his nationality’ because of ‘fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality’.
Syrians can still apply for ‘costly’ tourist visas and work permits to enter wealthier Gulf nations but they are rarely granted, according to the BBC.
THE DEFINITION OF REFUGEE IN THE 1951 REFUGEE CONVENTION
Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, created in July 1951, defines a refugee as:
‘A person who owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality and is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country; or who, not having a nationality and being outside the country of his former habitual residence as a result of such events, is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to return to it.’
Gulf nations argue that accepting large numbers of Syrian refugees is a serious threat to the safety of its citizens because terrorists could hide themselves among civilians.
They have donated large sums of money to help homeless refugees. According to ReliefWeb, the UAE has funded an entire refugee camp in Jordan which shelters tens of thousands of Syrians.
Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia and Qatar have donated funds, food, shelter and clothing to Syrias in Lebanon, Turkey and Jordan.
In total, the Gulf states are thought to have given over £589m to the aid effort – but it is four times less than the United States has.
The UK has given £918million to help deal with the impact of violence in Syria and Prime Minister David Cameron today announced Britain is increasing its aid for refugees to more than £1billion.
Britain’s contribution is more than Saudi Arabia’s £387million , UAE’s £359million and Qatar’s £157,000 combined.
The Gulf region ‘has the capacity to quickly build housing for the refugees,’ according to the Managing Editor of the Quartz news website, Bobby Ghosh.
Mass migration: Most migrants and refugees – including those in Syria – are fleeing war and persecution in their home countries and heading to Europe
He wrote: ‘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… There’s no reason all this knowhow can’t be put to humanitarian use.’
The majority of Syrian refugees have been taken in by Middle Eastern countries. Around 1.9million live in Turkish refugee camps, 1.1million in Lebanon, 629,000 in Jordan, 249,000 in northern Iraq and Egypt has housed 132,000, according to the United Nations.
But there was a massive surge in those trying to reach Europe this year and asylum applications had topped 300,000 by early August.
More than 89,000 were from Germany, which expects to take in more than 800,000 refugees from all over the world this year, and 62,000 for Sweden.
The UK has promised to rehome ‘thousands’, said Prime Minister David Cameron, who only this week claimed accepting more people was not the simple answer to the crisis.