Saudi Arabia says it's been taking Syrian refugees the whole time and no one's really convinced

Published September 13th, 2015 - 02:50 GMT
Are there really 2.5 million Syrian refugees in the Gulf country?
Are there really 2.5 million Syrian refugees in the Gulf country?

By now, there aren't many angles of the refugee crisis left out of international headlines, nor has there been short supply of criticism for countries who appear to be doing too little to help. 

This week, Saudi Arabia responded to criticism about their own failure to take in refugees — by denying it altogether.

The country says it's been busy with asylum seekers all along. It's just that they weren't processed as such.

According to Al Jazeera, a government source quoted by the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) this week said the kingdom has taken in some 2.5 million refugees since the conflict began. But instead of counting them as refugees they have instead given them permanent residency in the kingdom, offering the same schooling and free healthcare Saudi nationals enjoy. 

The official told the state news agency:

[Saudi Arabia] gave whoever chose to stay in the kingdom, which are in the hundreds of thousands, proper residency ... with all the rights that are included like free health care and engaging in the workforce and education."


The Gulf country is also one of the highest pledgers toward humanitarian aid in the region. According to the statement, the kingdom's forked over some $700 million toward refugee camps and clinics in the region. It also said over 100,000 Syrian students were being educated in Saudi schools.

Plenty of questions still surround Saudi's claim. After all, if the official's claim is correct, it would mean the kingdom's absorbed almost as many refugees as Jordan and Turkey combined, according to UNHCR's September numbers.

So far, social media is far from convinced.  Check out some of the social media responses below.


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