Everyone needs to do more to help the Syrian refugees

image showing large crowd of Syrian refugees walking through Hungary
Syrian refugees walk through Hungary

In recent weeks the number of refugees running from war in Syria has swelled. Most are headed to Europe even if some countries don’t want them. The conflict is partly be tied to climate change and a civil war assisted by nations like the US and France. Besides being the human thing to do, we all bear some responsibility to help the refugees.

The refugees from Syria are a major humanitarian crisis that is butting heads with old historical bias against outsiders. Countries are taking different approaches in dealing with the influx.

Thousands of migrants who had arrived in Hungary made their way through Austria to Germany over the weekend. Those arriving at Munich station were cheered by locals.

Mrs Merkel thanked volunteers who had helped and welcomed those arriving, saying they had “painted a picture of Germany which can make us proud of our country”.

However, she said that although Germany was “a country willing to take people in”, it was “time for the European Union to pull its weight”. 

Germany – which expects 800,000 asylum requests this year – could face costs of €10bn (£7.3bn) next year because of the influx, she added. About 18,000 people arrived in Germany over the weekend.

New quotas drawn up by the European Commission are set to be unveiled on Wednesday.

Spanish newspaper El Pais reported on Monday (in Spanish) that a total of 160,000 migrants would be resettled, including 66,000 who have arrived in Greece, 54,000 in Hungary and 40,000 in Italy.

Hungary had previously blocked migrants traveling to Western Europe, but dropped restrictions on Friday after struggling to cope with thousands camping in its capital, Budapest.

It is continuing work on a fence along its border with Serbia and its parliament passed tough new legislation on illegal immigrants last week.

Speaking on Monday, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said “as long as we can’t defend Europe’s outer borders, it is not worth talking about how many people we can take in”.

Those migrants trying to reach Germany were seeking a “German life” rather than physical safety, he said, adding that if the stream continued it would endanger Europe’s “Christian welfare states”.

Migrant crisis: Influx will change Germany, says Merkel

While most of Europe has been trying to accommodate the refugees, where are the Gulf states, who are closer to Syria:

But while Syria’s neighbours struggle to accommodate the influx, an Amnesty International report from December noted that the six Gulf states — Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Qatar — “have offered zero resettlement places to Syrian refugees”.

The executive director of Human Rights Watch, Kenneth Roth, underscored this point in a blunt tweet last week: “They’re wealthy, Muslim and not taking ANY Syrian refugees: Saudi Arabia & other Gulf states,” he wrote on Twitter.

Gulf states do provide significant financial help to those affected by the conflict. The United Arab Emirates has donated more than $540 million in humanitarian assistance as well as funded a refugee camp in Jordan and another in northern Iraq, a UAE government official told Bloomberg.

But critics note that the Gulf states’ aid does not involve opening up their borders to help deal with the crisis.

“Burden sharing has no meaning in the Gulf, and the Saudi, Emirati and Qatari approach has been to sign a check and let everyone else deal with it,” Sarah Leah Whitson, executive director of Human Rights Watch for its Middle East and North Africa division, told the paper. “Now everyone else is saying, ‘That’s not fair.’ “

Gulf states under fire for not accepting Syrian refugees

Of course the US has been slow to respond to the crisis because it is seen as a Middle East problem.

The problem with that view point is the US and Europe have played a part in the civil war in Syria so they should do all they can to help the refugee the war creates.

The other reason the west should take more responsibility is because the civil war has some link to climate change that much of the west continues to ignore.

Everyone needs to do more to help the Syrian refugees because we have all played a part in creating the crisis.