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What will it take for the world to do more about Syria’s ongoing, and increasingly desperate, refugee crisis? The image of a Syrian boy washing up on a beach in Bodrum, the five children found ashore in Zuwara and the 71 refugees who suffocated in the back of a truck in Austria, have spurred public outrage. Many are urging their own nations to do more as a recent UN inquiry noted 2,000 Syrians drowned in the Mediterranean Sea.
In response, EU leaders have called on European countries to share the burden of opening their doors to more refugees. During his weekly prayer in St. Peter’s Square, the Pope asked every Catholic parish or religious community in Europe to take in a refugee family. Finland’s Prime Minister said “we should all look in the mirror and ask ourselves how can we help” and offered to open his home to refugees. Under pressure, UK Prime Minister David Cameron announced that his country will accept 20,000 refugees by 2020, as humanitarian charities urged him to take more. Even Venezuela, who has a faltering economy, has offered to take in 20,000 Syrian refugees. Online the hashtag #RefugeesWelcome trended with more than 600,000 mentions in just a few days.
Many, however, believe the global community as a whole needs to step up. A recent UN inquiry said there is a “global failure to protect Syrian refugees”. Some have directed criticism at oil-rich countries in the Gulf, who’ve been under pressure to do more. Online the Arabic hashtag “Welcoming Syria’s refugees is a Gulf duty” trended with more than 35,000 mentions over the past few days. While some expressed shame, others urged their countries to open their doors. So far, however, Gulf nations are keeping their doors closed. Instead, they’ve given money to support UN efforts for the 4 million refugees registered by UNHCR in Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey.
But according to the UN Secretary General’s special representative on migration, money is “not enough” and that “buying your way out of this is not satisfactory.” So what is preventing wealthy countries from opening their doors to Syrian refugees? Join our conversation at 19:30 GMT.
On today's episode, we speak to:
Hamad al Thunayyan @HAlthunayyan
Kuwaiti citizen & PhD Candidate in Political Science, University of Maryland
Jane Kinninmont @janekinninmont
Deputy head, MENA Programme, Chatham House
Melissa Fleming @melissarfleming
Chief of communication and spokesperson at the UNHCR
Faisal Alazem @syrian_kids
Co-founder, Syrian Kids Foundation
What do you think? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below.