Wealthy Gulf nations face questions over Syria refugees
As hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees languish in camps or risk their lives to reach Europe, questions are being asked about why wealthy Gulf states have accepted so few.
By the end of August, more than four million Syrians had fled their country but very few if any refugees have been officially accepted by the six countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council.
Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have donated billions to help refugees, but are facing increasing scrutiny for their apparent unwillingness to accept refugees.
Why, ask many, as one of the greatest migration crises of modern times unfolds, are fellow Arab countries, with similar cultural and religious values and a relative proximity compared to Europe, doing little to help resettle people?
And, crucially, that criticism is being voiced not just in the West, but within the region itself.
In recent days, social media users in the Gulf have employed various hashtags including “#Welcoming_Syria’s_refugees_is_a_Gulf_duty” to voice their disgust with the perceived inaction of GCC states.
“The Gulf countries have to be ashamed when they see Europe’s doors open to Syrian refugees, while they close before us,” Abu Mohammed, a 30-year-old Syrian refugee now living in Jordan, told AFP.
An influx of Syrian refugees has swamped Europe this summer, with Germany alone expecting 800,000 new asylum applications this year and efforts under way to organise the relocations of tens of thousands more.
But in the oil-rich Gulf, GCC states have been absent from talk of helping with the refugee crisis.