16 September 2015

Saints and slackers on the refugee front

The Canadian government has come under considerable criticism for its sluggish reaction to the Syrian refugee crisis, and deservedly so. As I pointed out in a previous post, this is in sharp contrast to our response to other similar crises.

A number of countries are doing much better than us, and then there are those that are doing much worse. On the better side are some of Syria's neighbours. Turkey has taken in more than any other country, 1,600,000 refuges, and Jordan and Lebanon, despite their small size, have received over 600,000 and 1,100,000 respectively.

Of the total number of refugees, the UN Refugee Agency estimates 380,000 are in need of resettlement. To date, 107,000 places have been offered with Germany the most generous country, offering to resettle 35,000, a third of the places required.

Not all nations are so welcoming. A number of high income countries, including Japan and South Korea, have offered zero resettlement. The worst malingerers can be counted among the Syrians' rich Arab neighbours. The Gulf states—Oman, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia—have offered no places to their Semitic brothers and sisters. There can be no excuses here. The Gulf region has immense wealth and ample job opportunities—millions of professionals and labourers are imported from around the world to service the lifestyles and enterprises of these states.

Also noticeably absent from the list of nations offering to accept refugees are Russia and Iran. Neither has offered refuge to a single Syrian. Considering that they have been supporting Bashar Al-Assad in his brutal attempt to maintain power, the least they can do is provide sanctuary to some of his victims.

Canada can do much more to help these people, but we are not alone in shirking our humanitarian responsibility. There are others who should also be doing more, some a great deal more than us.

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