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The Gulf’s responsibility in the refugee issue

Millions of refugees have been wandering helplessly over the past few years. They have flowed into Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, and the Kurdish areas in northern Iraq and other regions. Some have taken the risky journey towards Europe and many have followed. This raises the question: Why don’t these people head to the Arabian Peninsula despite their “humanitarian” claims? Hasn’t this “humanitarianism” become the main term used in the Gulf states’ public relations policies?

The Gulf is located on this planet, exactly parallel to the inflamed areas that the refugees are fleeing by the million in search of safe havens. However, how many refugees has the Gulf received so far? There have been no clear Gulf statements that have allowed us to find the answer to this open question.

The Gulf, its leaders, governments, communities, scientists, intellectuals and its humanitarian and human rights institutions must all take initiative to reconsider the prevalent outdated logic that they don’t need to receive refugees and can instead help them from afar. If the Gulf wants to live in its world, belong to its nation, and fit in with its surroundings, then it has a humanitarian and moral price to pay. These are also religious, brotherly and national duties and nothing can replace direct contact and providing a decent shelter for the refugees.

Can the Gulf really look the other way and disregard those who have drowned in the depths of the sea? Can it ignore the phenomena of the mass suffocation in trucks? It is concerned with the responsibility for the mass panic and the growing tragedies before any other party in the world. The statements of concern and sorrow issued by the Gulf states after tragedies engulf those looking for safety are meaningless because true concern for their safety requires them to effectively contribute to providing the refugees with a safe haven that does not force them to overcrowd shaky boats and worn out trucks.

We must be free from all delusions. The Gulf has enough, even more than enough, capabilities to carry out its responsibilities. Those building skyscrapers are not unable to provide decent living conditions in their land for the families and children sleeping out in the open before the eyes of the world’s nations. The Gulf states can formulate effective mechanisms to accommodate a reasonable amount of refugees and introduce practical measures in order to provide them with suitable shelter.

The questions remain scattered along the horizon. Doesn’t the current tragic humanitarian situation and its worsening disasters warrant an urgent Gulf humanitarian summit? Shouldn’t the Gulf partners discuss a comfortable “distribution mechanism” for a considerable number of refugees who lost their homes and send a message of “resolution” to their distressed brothers during this historic moment?

What we are certain about is that they possess the capabilities that allow them to do more than provide the traditional relief convoys that distribute blankets, dates and various aid in the refugee gathering centres hosted by other countries. What is required before anything else is effective strategies that do not rule out hosting a share of these refugees who are wandering helplessly across the continents.

There is nothing taboo in this discussion as long as there are still children sleeping out in the open and families dying during their perilous journeys looking for havens across the world.

We cannot believe the line that Turkey, Scandinavia and other regions are the only homes of compassionate hearts.

We hope that the Gulf remains an oasis of safety and dignified living and therefore it must pay a humanitarian and moral tax and carry out its religious and brotherly duty towards humankind, rather, their brothers, who are trapped in their crises and tragedies. This issue must be discussed and there must be accountability in the representative and national councils in the Gulf. No other matter can take priority over the lives of the people and their security and safety.

The Gulf must gain a sense of its responsibilities today before the next Gulf generations ask about the following section of their history books: Once the tragedy and disaster struck our neighbouring countries, our states took action to provide relief to those suffering. Our ancestors carried out their duties and found ways to provide stability and safety. Our distressed brethren no longer needed shelter, food, or clothes and they remained taken care of until God lifted the tragedy and they returned to their countries with dignity. Some stayed behind to contribute to the development and prosperity of our country and many of our brethren took on our country’s traditions.

Translated from Al-Khaleej Online on 2 September 2015.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.

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