This House believes the Gulf States should take in more Syrian refugees

Ever since the beginning of an attempt at revolution in Syria which turned into a civil war from June 2011 Syria has become the biggest humanitarian crisis in the world. The war led to the formation of many rebel factions including what has become Daesh (Islamic State/ISIS). The conflict combined with the repressive policies of Daesh in the places they have conquered have resulted in more than 7 million people being internally displaced while close to half of the pre-war population of 23 million are in need of urgent humanitarian assistance.[1] So far the United Nations has registered 4,718,230 refugees from Syria.[2] A refugee is someone who "owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality, and is unable to, or owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country."[3] At the moment this would apply to anyone from Syria due to its state of civil war. Many of these refugees after years in camps on Syria’s borders are now giving up hope of a return to peace in Syria and are now looking to move elsewhere; particularly to Europe. However should the Gulf states being doing more to take in these refugees?

[1] MercyCorps, ‘Quick facts: What you need to know about the Syria crisis’, 5 February 2016, http://www.mercycorps.org/articles/turkey-iraq-jordan-lebanon-syria/quick-facts-what-you-need-know-about-syria-crisis

[2] ‘Syria Regional Refugee Response Inter-agency Information Sharing Portal’, UNHCR, 17 February 2016, http://data.unhcr.org/syrianrefugees/regional.php

[3] UNHCR, ‘Refugees Flowing Across Borders’, unhcr.org, http://www.unhcr.org/pages/49c3646c125.html

 

Title 
The Gulf states are a convenient place to settle Syrian refugees
Point 

With language being the basis of communication, and most of the gulf state’s population speaking in Arabic, which is the language widely spoken by Syrians the Gulf states are a natural choice to take in refugees.  Syria and the Gulf states also have similar cultures. Both of these make it easier for refugees to interact with natives, build up a social network, and find work. Studies from the US have implied that it is best to send migrants (refugees) to places where there is such a network they can quickly plug into which improves the prospects of the migrants getting jobs.[1]

[1] Beaman, Lori A., ‘Social Networks and the Dynamics of Labour Market Outcomes: Evidence from Refugees Resettled in the U.S.’, Berkeley University, 15 November 2006, http://are.berkeley.edu/documents/seminar/JMP_Social%20Networks.pdf, P.31

Counterpoint 

The affinity as a result of joint linguistic and cultural ties between Syrians and the gulf may be of little use if the refugees are heavily restricted in where they live or can do. If they are put into camps with little contact with the outside world the refugees could simply be cut off from this social network. Syria’s neighbours have generally been unwilling to integrate refugee populations; Jordan has had Palestinian refugees for almost half a century yet nearly 370,000 are still in refugee camps.[1]

[1] ‘Where we work; Jordan’ United Nations Relief and Works Agency, 1 July 2014, http://www.unrwa.org/where-we-work/jordan

Title 
The Gulf states have a moral responsibility to take in Syrian refugees
Point 

It is a moral responsibility for gulf states to take in Syrian refugees both in terms of common humanity and as they all belong to the same culture and regional organisations (i.e. The Arab League). The numbers taken by the gulf states look particularly irresponsible looking it as a comparison to the number that European countries have taken in. Amnesty International has accused the gulf states of offering zero resettlement places.[1]

[1] Amnesty International, ‘Facts & Figures: Syria refugee crisis & international resettlement’, 5 December 2014, https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2014/12/facts-figures-syria-refugee-crisis-international-resettlement/

Counterpoint 

Moral responsibility is not about comparisons if it were then what about those European countries that have not been open armed like in Hungary they have made it illegal to help Syrian refugees[1]. Riot police in Hungary have used teargas and water cannon to send them off.[2] Saudi Arabia has been doing enough to account for its moral responsibility; it has given residency to 100,000 Syrians.[3]

[1] Frayer, Lauren, ‘Risking Arrest, Thousands of Hungarians offer help to refugees’, NPR, 29 September 2015, http://www.npr.org/sections/parallels/2015/09/29/444447532/risking-arrest-thousands-of-hungarians-offer-help-to-refugees

[2] Weaver, Matthew, and Siddique, Haroon, ‘Refugee crisis: Hungary uses teargas and water cannon at Serbia border – as it happened’, theguardian.com, 16 September 2015, www.theguardian.com/world/live/2015/sep/16/first-refugees-head-for-croatia-after-hungarys-border-crackdown-live-updates

[3] The Guardian, ‘Saudi Arabia says criticism of Syria refugee response ‘false and misleading’, 12 September 2015, http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/sep/12/saudi-arabia-says-reports-of-its-syrian-refugee-response-false-and-misleading

Title 
European countries have taken in a huge number of refugees while gulf states have taken none
Point 

There were 1,294,000 claims for asylum in Europe in 2015 with more than a fifth of these coming originally from Syria.[1] Although many Arab states have shouldered their share of the burden, particularly neighbouring Jordan and Lebanon, the Gulf at the same time have taken in almost nil refugees. The Gulf states are rich countries, particularly by comparison to their neighbours that are taking up the burden. Per capita income in Jordan is $5,160 compared to $25,140 in Saudi Arabia and $44,600 in UAE as such they can afford to do much more.[2]

[1] BBC News, ‘Migrant crisis: Migration to Europe explained in seven charts’, 18 February 2016, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-34131911

[2] World Bank, data.worldbank.orghttp://data.worldbank.org/country/jordan

Counterpoint 

Taking in refugees is not the only thing that countries can contribute in combating the Syria refugee crisis. Gulf countries are known to have donated a total of around £589m in addition to other aid they have delivered. This is vital to make the camps that have sprung up along Syria’s borders liveable. 

Title 
Gulf countries could benefit from refugees
Point 

Just like Gulf countries have greatly benefitted from expat immigration, the U.A.E being a great example of such growth where the expat population is estimated to be 84% of the UAE population[1], Gulf countries in the same way can make use of Syrian refugees immigrating. Syrian refugees can provide cheap labour on the Gulf states ambitious construction projects as well as helping to provide an educated workforce that can help diversify the gulf states economies away from oil.

[1] Al Qassemi, Sultan Sooud, ‘Give expats and opportunity to earn UAE citizenship’, Gulf News, 22 September 2013, http://gulfnews.com/opinion/thinkers/give-expats-an-opportunity-to-earn-uae-citizenship-1.1234167

Counterpoint 

Unfortunately the refugee crisis is not happening at a good time economically for the Gulf. Oil prices have slumped. As a result there is a turbulent economy with many losing their jobs.[1] There is high levels of competition for those jobs that do exist and in the gulf people often get their jobs through influence (Wasta, as it is known in gulf countries) of acquaintances/friends, which would serve to shut refugees out of the jobs market.

[1] Reuters, ‘FGB announces 100 job cuts in UAE’, Gulf News, 24 November 2015, http://gulfnews.com/business/sectors/banking/fgb-announces-100-job-cuts-in-uae-1.1625342

Title 
The Gulf states are themselves not bastions of freedom
Point 

Syrians are leaving Syria as a result of a civil war born out of the Arab Spring, it was an attempt to gain more freedom within a dictatorship.[1] Such a population is unlikely to wish to move to a country where freedoms are often restricted. All the countries of the Gulf are monarchies, often with only the barest touch of democracy electing rubber stamp parliaments. Organisations such as Human Rights Watch have highlighted the violence which many migrants suffer and large numbers are exploited.[2]

[1] Ali, Jasim, ‘Gulf states need to aim higher on freedom parameter’, Gulf News, 4 September 2015, http://gulfnews.com/business/analysis/gulf-states-need-to-aim-higher-on-freedom-parameter-1.1578190

[2] Begum, Rothna, ‘Gulf States Fail to Protect Domestic Workers From Serious Violence’, hrw.org, 16 October 2015, https://www.hrw.org/news/2015/10/16/gulf-states-fail-protect-domestic-workers-serious-violence  

Counterpoint 

Refugees can’t be choosers in a situation where their country has been destroyed. A survey conducted among refugees arriving in Germany showed that around 68% of the people fled just to save themselves from the imminent threat.[1] The Gulf States may not be a model of democracy and human rights but migrants would be considerably safer than in Syria.

[1] Von Martin, ‘Survey amongst Syrian refugees in Germany – Backgrounds’, adopt a revolution, 7 October 2015, https://www.adoptrevolution.org/en/survey-amongst-syrian-refugees-in-germany-backgrounds/

Title 
ISIS could infiltrate to Gulf States
Point 

The 2015 terrorist attacks in Paris show that ISIS has the ability to infiltrate countries through refugees. Although the participants in these attacks had been living in France and Brussels some had also been to fight in Syria and at least one, Abdelhamid Abaaoud, returned along the migrant route.[1] This shows that influxes of refugees could pose great threat to gulf countries and Daesh has already claimed terrorist attacks in Kuwait.[2] Even before the rise of ISIS gulf states were concerned about the security risks posed by migrant workers with Bahrain’s Minister of Labour Majid Al-Alawi stating migrant workers are a strategic threat.[3]

[1] Holehouse, Matthew, and Samuel, Henry, ‘Terrorist ringleader got into EU as ‘refugee’’, The Telegraph, 20 November 2015, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/terrorism-in-the-uk/12006892/International-manhunt-underway-after-French-police-let-Paris-attacks-suspect-slip-through-their-fingers.html

[2] Cafiero, Giorgio, ‘The ‘Islamic State’ Attacks Kuwait’, Huffington Post, 1 July 2015, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/giorgio-cafiero/the-islamic-state-attacks_b_7690374.html

[3] Rahman, Anisur, ‘Migration and Human Rights in the Gulf’, Middle East Institute, 2 February 2010, http://www.mei.edu/content/migration-and-human-rights-gulf

Counterpoint 

The incidents that occurred in Europe were involving native Europeans themselves, although they did travel to and back from Syria.

Just like Europe could have home grown terrorists, the same likeliness applies to the gulf states. In fact statistics even show that one of the highest number of recruits for Daesh has been those from Saudi Arabia.[1]

[1] The Economist, ‘It ain’t half hot here, mum’, 28 August 2014, http://www.economist.com/news/middle-east-and-africa/21614226-why-and-how-westerners-go-fight-syria-and-iraq-it-aint-half-hot-here-mum

Title 
The Gulf states want to solve the root of the refugee crisis; getting rid of Assad
Point 

Gulf countries have been trying to fix the problem politically rather than taking in a few refugees, which would be beneficial to most of the Syrians? The vast majority of Syrians would prefer to go home to a Syria with the civil war over and preferably with Assad gone. The gulf starts, are the main powers working to see this happen. While the US has helped arm some rebel groups the funding for this was provided by Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states have gone further than the west in terms of providing arms.[1]

[1] Mazzetti, Mark and Apuzzo, Matt, ‘U.S. Relies Heavily on Saudi Money to Support Syrian Rebels’, The New York Times, 23 January 2016, http://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/24/world/middleeast/us-relies-heavily-on-saudi-money-to-support-syrian-rebels.html?_r=0

Counterpoint 

The effort to fund and arm the rebels has not shown any result, it’s been over 4 years and yet nothing has solved the problem. Rather the situation has got steadily worse with moderate opposition first losing out to Daesh, and then to Assad since Russian air support tipped the balance. Arming rebel groups simply helps to perpetuate the civil war and ensure that refugees cannot return home. 

Bibliography 

Al Qassemi, Sultan Sooud, ‘Give expats and opportunity to earn UAE citizenship’, Gulf News, 22 September 2013, http://gulfnews.com/opinion/thinkers/give-expats-an-opportunity-to-earn-uae-citizenship-1.1234167

Ali, Jasim, ‘Gulf states need to aim higher on freedom parameter’, Gulf News, 4 September 2015, http://gulfnews.com/business/analysis/gulf-states-need-to-aim-higher-on-freedom-parameter-1.1578190

Amnesty International, ‘Facts & Figures: Syria refugee crisis & international resettlement’, 5 December 2014, https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2014/12/facts-figures-syria-refugee-crisis-international-resettlement/

BBC News, ‘Migrant crisis: Migration to Europe explained in seven charts’, 18 February 2016, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-34131911

Beaman, Lori A., ‘Social Networks and the Dynamics of Labour Market Outcomes: Evidence from Refugees Resettled in the U.S.’, Berkeley University, 15 November 2006, http://are.berkeley.edu/documents/seminar/JMP_Social%20Networks.pdf, P.31

Begum, Rothna, ‘Gulf States Fail to Protect Domestic Workers From Serious Violence’, hrw.org, 16 October 2015, https://www.hrw.org/news/2015/10/16/gulf-states-fail-protect-domestic-workers-serious-violence

Cafiero, Giorgio, ‘The ‘Islamic State’ Attacks Kuwait’, Huffington Post, 1 July 2015, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/giorgio-cafiero/the-islamic-state-attacks_b_7690374.html

The Economist, ‘It ain’t half hot here, mum’, 28 August 2014, http://www.economist.com/news/middle-east-and-africa/21614226-why-and-how-westerners-go-fight-syria-and-iraq-it-aint-half-hot-here-mum

Frayer, Lauren, ‘Risking Arrest, Thousands of Hungarians offer help to refugees’, NPR, 29 September 2015, http://www.npr.org/sections/parallels/2015/09/29/444447532/risking-arrest-thousands-of-hungarians-offer-help-to-refugees

The Guardian, ‘Saudi Arabia says criticism of Syria refugee response ‘false and misleading’, 12 September 2015, http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/sep/12/saudi-arabia-says-reports-of-its-syrian-refugee-response-false-and-misleading

Holehouse, Matthew, and Samuel, Henry, ‘Terrorist ringleader got into EU as ‘refugee’’, The Telegraph, 20 November 2015, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/terrorism-in-the-uk/12006892/International-manhunt-underway-after-French-police-let-Paris-attacks-suspect-slip-through-their-fingers.html

Mazzetti, Mark and Apuzzo, Matt, ‘U.S. Relies Heavily on Saudi Money to Support Syrian Rebels’, The New York Times, 23 January 2016, http://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/24/world/middleeast/us-relies-heavily-on-saudi-money-to-support-syrian-rebels.html?_r=0

MercyCorps, ‘Quick facts: What you need to know about the Syria crisis’, 5 February 2016, http://www.mercycorps.org/articles/turkey-iraq-jordan-lebanon-syria/quick-facts-what-you-need-know-about-syria-crisis

Rahman, Anisur, ‘Migration and Human Rights in the Gulf’, Middle East Institute, 2 February 2010, http://www.mei.edu/content/migration-and-human-rights-gulf

Reuters, ‘FGB announces 100 job cuts in UAE’, Gulf News, 24 November 2015, http://gulfnews.com/business/sectors/banking/fgb-announces-100-job-cuts-in-uae-1.1625342

 ‘Syria Regional Refugee Response Inter-agency Information Sharing Portal’, UNHCR, 17 February 2016, http://data.unhcr.org/syrianrefugees/regional.php

UNHCR, ‘Refugees Flowing Across Borders’, unhcr.org, http://www.unhcr.org/pages/49c3646c125.html

 ‘Where we work; Jordan’ United Nations Relief and Works Agency, 1 July 2014, http://www.unrwa.org/where-we-work/jordan

Von Martin, ‘Survey amongst Syrian refugees in Germany – Backgrounds’, adopt a revolution, 7 October 2015, https://www.adoptrevolution.org/en/survey-amongst-syrian-refugees-in-germany-backgrounds/

Weaver, Matthew, and Siddique, Haroon, ‘Refugee crisis: Hungary uses teargas and water cannon at Serbia border – as it happened’, theguardian.com, 16 September 2015, www.theguardian.com/world/live/2015/sep/16/first-refugees-head-for-croatia-after-hungarys-border-crackdown-live-updates

World Bank, data.worldbank.org, http://data.worldbank.org/country/jordan

Reuters, ‘FGB announces 100 job cuts in UAE’, Gulf News, 24 November 2015, http://gulfnews.com/business/sectors/banking/fgb-announces-100-job-cuts-in-uae-1.1625342

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