The Current

Arab Gulf states under fire to help Syrian refugees

The image of Alan Kurdi's lifeless body may have triggered concern for refugees around the globe but Abdullah Kurdi's plea to Arab leaders has not motivated the Emirs and Monarchs. It seems Gulf state leaders stand apart, unable to point to any refugee settlement inside their own privileged domains.
The Gulf states have been criticized for their response to the refugee crisis. Despite having opened their doors wide to Kuwaitis during the first Gulf War, leaders have not stepped up to take in refugees during this conflict. (Marko Djurica/Reuters)

Whenever we begin a story about the Syrian refugee crisis, there's a danger that the sheer numbers involved will become overwhelming. 

After all, more than 4 million people have now fled the conflict. And, as we hear so much about the tens of thousands making their way into Europe, it's still Syria's neighbours taking in the most people.

In Jordan today, there are 600,000 Syrian refugees.

It's 1.2 million inside Lebanon.

And nearly 2 million in Turkey alone.

Another staggering number, perhaps even more difficult to comprehend, is.... zero.

That's the number of Syrian refugees the wealthy Gulf states, like Saudi Arabia, have offered resettlement to, despite being so close to the crisis, and its people.     

Geoffrey Mock is the Syria specialist for Amnesty International USA. He was in Durham, North Carolina.

The Gulf states aren't doing enough to help refugees, but they think they are, says Joshua Landis. (EPA/CEM TURKEL)

We've heard the calls for the Gulf states to step up and do more.... but the question remains, will they? 

The Current did request interviews with the ambassadors of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Qatar and Kuwait.  No one was made available to join us. 

These are countries whose motivations Joshua Landis understands very well. He is Director of The Center of Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma. We reached him in Norman, Oklahoma. 

None of the Gulf state ambassadors to Canada was available to join us today, however the Embassy of the UAE sent us a statement which reads in part:

"The UAE is proud of the strong support it has shown to alleviate the suffering of the people of Syria, from the beginning of the crisis."

It notes the UAE has provided more than 100,000 residency permits to Syrians since the civil war began, and is financing a refugee camp in Jordan housing 4,000 people. 

This segment was produced by The  Current's Julian Uzielli, Karin Marley and Josh Flear.