The Syrian refugees and the GCC

In view of the sad events of the Levant, we would take exception today to voice out our frustration before the prevailing and extreme circumstances.

The shocking photos of Eylan, the little Syrian boy who drowned trying to get to Europe has sparked international outrage.

Al Jazeera produced a special report on :

“Bodies of drowned Syrian refugees found on Turkey beach” on 2 September 2015 (see Al Jazeera )

Outrage that governments in the Arabian Peninsula could not do and provide shelter for desperate Syrians.  To date, the oil-rich GCC countries have not done nor offered to do, as for instance, take in any of the refugees.  We all know that there is plenty of space, work and most certainly lots of finance for any salvation schemes.   As for the other countries members of the Arab League, such as Egypt and all those of the Maghreb; nothing significant was heard of todate.

In anger because of their countries’ reluctance to open their doors, many Arab and non-Arabs alike are turning to social media.

A hashtag, “receiving refugees is the people’s demand,” started in Saudi Arabia features a number of harrowing photos and graphic cartoons, according to most.  They tell Quartz via email that while it is very difficult to judge “what people feel on the ground,” the social-media response managed to bring about all of the outrage at the inaction of the region’s authorities.

Other hashtags have appeared such likes “Syrian child drowns” and “hosting Syrian refugees is a GCC obligation.” Some highlight the insolence of Gulf leaders criticizing Europe’s response before the refugee crisis, while others chide leaders for only donating money to humanitarian organizations instead of actively taking in refugees.

The Syrian refugees and the UK

Meanwhile, Dr Neil Quilliam, Acting Head, Middle East and North Africa Programme of Chatham House writes arguing that the UK should admit and/or resettle 10,000 Syrian refugees.

He adds that :

A change in UK policy could also catalyse international action, but this is contingent on the government setting a stronger example.  The UK has pledged to admit far fewer refugees than some of its Western partners, including Germany (30,000), Canada (12,300), Australia (5,600) and Switzerland (3,500).  Although admitting 10,000 refugees would only help a small proportion of those in need, it would encourage other governments, including in Gulf Arab states, to work towards realizing the UNHCR ministerial pledging conference’s goal of resettling or providing humanitarian admission to 180,000 of the most vulnerable Syrian refugees (about 5 per cent of the total refugee population).

Something will certainly emerge out of all this, for instance, countries of Europe after a period of time must review their copy and decide voluntarily to come into not as this was perhaps the case up to now but most probably in intervening directly.  This could easily be justified with the rather poor record of all neighbouring countries in this issue.  Intervening fundamentally to prevent such human flows of refugees and others to come in future.

This case of the Syrian refugees in Europe could therefore be a precedent that would bring many to seek the right to look into what is happening in the south Mediterranean countries in order to perhaps pre-empt local policies that may precipitate unacceptable exoduses of the economic, political and even socio-cultural type.

First thing to do is to perhaps persuade the rich countries of the Gulf with Saudi Arabia first to take a few thousands if not millions of these refugees.