Five reasons Aylan Kurdi won't convince Gulf states to take more Syrian refugees

Published September 6th, 2015 - 12:54 GMT
Whether we like it or not, it's going to take a lot more than the symbolic image to change the Gulf's mind about asylum seekers. (AFP/File)
Whether we like it or not, it's going to take a lot more than the symbolic image to change the Gulf's mind about asylum seekers. (AFP/File)

By now you know that this week is all about what Europe can do to alleviate the swelling refugee crisis unfolding on their shores. But as we discovered last week, there’s another big question being posed in the Middle East — where are the Gulf countries?

As the Syrian war enters its fifth year and communities across Iraq continue to be displaced by warring groups of their own, social media users are starting to question why regional neighbors in the Gulf have so far failed to take in nearly any refugee. 

Turns out, the reason for that is tied up in a lot more than the refugees themselves. And it’s unlikely to change anytime soon. Here’s why. Via Business Insider.

1. It's not just Syrians — but everyone. In general, the Gulf visa is a bureaucratic nightmare for all migrants who try, regardless of where they're coming from. Couple that with recent pushes by some countries like Saudi to localize their workforce — you're looking at an immigration policy that's not really in anyone's favor.

2. In every Gulf country besides Qatar and Saudi Arabia, foreigners exceed locals in the workforce. Often, these workers come from war-torn countries of their own, like Pakistan. Under different Gulf rules, they may be able to apply for asylum themselves. 

3.  These countries rely on migrant workers, which is unlikely to change anytime soon. Still, many only grant continuous, temporary visas to these workers. Though many stay for years, this too is a Gulf policy unlikely to change anytime soon. 

4. So how does this affect Syrians? Gulf states' fear granting asylum to refugees of Middle East wars could mean they'd have to also reassess visa standards for other migrants. That's a step they're not really willing to do. 

5. They may not be taking in refugees, but they're helping fund other countries that are. Kuwait is the largest Arab donor and the fourth largest worldwide to the Syrian crisis. So while they may not be ready to rethink their closed-door asylum policies, they're also not sitting back doing nothing at all. 


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