“Neurons” Meta Reflections 2015 #42
September 28, 2015
Creating Response-Able Persons #7

Being responsible as a person entails accepting responsibility for the responses that one can make to people and circumstances. In recent weeks, on just about every media outlet, we have seen hundreds of thousands of people fleeing as refugees from the war in Syria. We have seen pictures of babies and young children dying in the Mediterranean Sea as families have fled and tens of thousands blocked from entering various countries. There’s been a flood of migrants heading mostly for Germany and the UK where welfare benefits are the highest, and it has created a massive humanitarian crisis. Many of the refugees have arrived in some of Europe’s poorest states— Greece, Italy and Hungary.

So, what’s to be done? What can we do? Whose responsibility is this? What responses can the world make to this crisis?

Dr. Denis MacEoin, a Senior Fellow at the Gatestone Institute, has gathered stunning statistics from an Amnesty International report (Dec. 2014) and has shown a thoroughly imbalanced response from the immediate Arab world around Syria. In reading the following, I began asking myself, “When will Arab leaders step up?” In doing so, I am putting out a challenge to Arab leaders: “Will you be responsible or irresponsible in this humanitarian crisis?”

Today the problem is that while countries in the European Union are experiencing an overwhelming influx of refugees from Syria and other collapsing Middle East countries, “the vastly wealthy Arab nations of Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States are sitting back and watching as Europe takes the toll.” That is not the behavior of responsible people and especially those who claim to be leaders, including spiritual leaders.

Fact #1: 95% of the first 3.8 million refugees fleeing Syria are located in five countries. With the exception of Turkey, those five countries are among the poorest in the region: Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt. Amnesty’s breakdown of the figures are these:

∙ Lebanon hosts 1.1 million registered refugees— 26% of the country’s population.

∙ Jordan hosts 618,615 registered refugees— 9.8% of the population.

∙ Turkey hosts 1.6 million refugees— 2.4% of the population.

∙ Iraq hosts 225,373 registered refugees — 0.67% of the population.

∙ Egypt hosts 142,543 registered refugees — 0.17% of the population.

Amnesty International is calling for at least 5% of the refugees to be resettled from the main host countries by the end of 2015, with a further 5% to follow by the end of 2016. But that’s only a total of 380,000 people.

Fact #2: Six countries speaking the same language (with regional variations), belong to the same ethnic group, share the same religion and much of the same culture, and are among the wealthiest countries in the world. Yet they have no room at all for their fellow Arabs. The six Arab Gulf countries of Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Oman, the UAE, Kuwait and Bahrain have offered zero — 0 — places for desperate refugees! Now, what’s with that? Do Arabs in these six countries not care? Do they refuse responsibility to their fellow human beings?

Dr. MacEoin writes, “They [seem to be] perfectly happy to let hundreds of thousands to squeeze into an already saturated Europe, into countries that have not, for the most part, succeeding in assimilating or integrating existing Arab, Turkish, Somali, and other mainly Muslim minorities.”

Nor is he alone. There are many others now joining the criticism of these six Gulf States. Others who have been speaking out include the following:

∙ Sarah Hashash, Middle East and North Africa press officer at Amnesty International, has “called the Gulf Arab states’ behavior ‘utterly shameful’ and criticized Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates for officially taking in zero refugees.”

∙ Daniel Gorevan, a NGO official, Oxfam’s Syria country director, states: “Gulf countries clearly can and should do an awful lot more.”

∙ Danish Finance Minister Claus Hjort Frederiksen: “I’m most indignant over the Arab countries who are rolling in money and who only take very few refugees,” “Countries like Saudi Arabia. It’s completely scandalous.”

So, when will the Arab Leaders in those six Gulf Countries step up to their responsibilities? When will they open their doors and their hearts to this humanitarian crisis? Do they fear that there might be terrorists planted by ISIS among the refugees? Welcome to the same fear that every nation has who is receiving the refugees!

The choice of being and living in a responsible way entails doing responding the best that we can given the situations of life. This is especially so for leaders and even more so for political and spiritual leaders. Where is the outcry among Moslem leaders within these countries? Isn’t it about time?

L. Michael Hall, Ph.D.