Refugee Crisis: Rich Arab Nations, Qatar, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Bahrain Still Not Helping

04/09/2015 20:28 | Updated 04 September 2015

Every day, refugees risk their lives to escape persecution and war. They travel thousands of miles, hide in car engines, the backs of vehicles and cram onto tiny boats to cross perilous waters, all in a bid to reach safety.

This week, the haunting picture of a little boy's lifeless body washed up on the shore of a Turkish beach forced a discussion about the plight of refugees.

As the biggest refugee crisis since World War Two draws attention to the actions of European leaders, we forget how little Syria's Arab neighbours are doing to ease the hardships facing the displaced.

Amnesty International reports that "from Asia to Europe, large wealthy countries have turned their backs on Syrian refugees. All six Gulf countries, Russia and Japan have not offered to resettle a single refugee".

Despite their proximity to the war-stricken state, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman and Bahrain have not offered any resettlement places.

Saudi Arabia and the other Arab states along the Persian Gulf are not only close to Syria, but are very wealthy.

Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch, shared this powerful image depicting the attitude of Gulf states towards Syrian refugees.

He also highlighted the number of refugees that these states have offered to take.

But pressure is mounting from within the Gulf states to accept refugees.

Doha News reports that this week, the hashtag #استضافة_لاجئي_سوريا_واجب_خليجي (welcome Syria’s refugees is a Gulf duty) was trending on Twitter.

On Wednesday - the same day as Aylan Kurdi's body was discovered - an editorial piece published in the Gulf Times lambasted the "deafening" silence of the rich Arab states.

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Aylan Kurdi's body was recovered from a Turkish beach on Wednesday

The piece read: "Tragically, the cash-rich Gulf countries have not yet issued a collective statement on the crisis – much less come up with a strategy to help the migrants who are overwhelmingly Muslim.

"Turkey has taken in more than 2.5 million Syrian refugees, while not-so-well-off Lebanon is also hosting hundreds of thousands. In this part of the world, however, the silence is deafening."

Sultan Sooud al-Qassemi, a UAE-based columnist, also called on the Gulf states to open their doors to Syrian refugees.

Writing in the IB Times, he said: "With great power comes great responsibility. The Gulf must realise that now is the time to change their policy regarding accepting refugees from the Syria crisis.

"It is the moral, ethical and responsible step to take."

To put it in context, this graphic shows the shocking contrast between how many people the states surrounding Syria are accepting.

According to Forbes, Saudi Arabia’s $776 billion gross domestic product puts it in the top 10 percentile of world nation’s gross domestic products.

Furthermore, Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Alsaud, a member of Saudi Arabia's royal family, is currently ranked 34th in Forbes' rich list.

Oil-rich nation Kuwait is home to five billionaires, while the UAE has a very wealthy population; the city of Dubai alone is home to nine billionaires.

Forbes reports: "With a population of 2 million according to 2012 figures, visitors are likely to encounter a ten-figure fortune for every 222,223 people in the Emirate."

The staggering wealth of these nations that have so far offered no resettlement places to refugees has not gone unnoticed.

Furthermore, many have highlighted that these rich nations are not innocent when it comes to the Syrian conflict.

To different extents, those within Saudi Arabia, Qatar, UAE and Kuwait have invested in the Civil War, particularly in regards to issuing financial help to rebel forces fighting against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

For those Syrians wishing to enter a Gulf states, their options are limited and costly.

While officially Syrians can apply for a tourist visa or a work permit for one of the wealthy Arab countries, the process is expensive.

The BBC reports that there is a widespread perception that many Gulf states have unwritten restrictions in place which make it difficult for Syrians to be granted a visa.

According to the BBC, the only Arab countries where a Syrian can travel without a visa are Algeria, Mauritania, Sudan and Yemen.

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