Saudi Arabia is one of the largest providers of humanitarian aid budgets in the world but due to their wide net of assistance and charities, they are involved in both public and private. Many western news outlets have claimed that Saudi Arabia has not provided any assistance to Syrian refugees which can be further away from the truth.
One of the major reasons for this is because Saudi Arabia has not signed the UN convention on refugees which leads many people to believe that Saudi Arabia does not welcome any refugees into the country. This may not seem like an important fact but it differently plays a big role in this entire controversy. Saudi Arabia officials have already stated claims of Saudi Arabia not welcoming refugees are false and baseless. Most of the accusations being thrown to Saudi Arabia for not housing any Syrian refugees from Western media outlets are due to exploiting a technical loophole on the N high Commissioner for Refugees site. But is there any proof of the claim that Saudi Arabia has made?
Most of the Western news media outlets like the Washington Post CNN and foreign policy getting the information on the Syrian Refugee numbers from the UN high Commissioner for Refugees which states that over 4 million refugees have been registered by the UN high commission of refugees in Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey. None of these adjusted in Saudi Arabia or any other Gulf state.
This is where things get interesting if you take a look at Saudi Arabia has UNHCR page you will notice that has a few curious foot notes and western publications are conveniently not adding into their articles. The UNHCR counts refugees by noting only those “persons recognized as refugees under the 1951 UN Convention/1967 Protocol, the 1969 OAU Convention, in accordance with the UNHCR Statute, persons granted a complementary form of protection and those granted temporary protection”. What this means is that since Saudi, Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, and UAE did not sign the UN high Commissioner for Refugees, any refugees they taken excluded from the counting mechanism.
Western media outlets have used this technical loophole draw more clicks. As long as Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf States do not register with the UN convention of refugees, any refugees that were taken are simply classified as Arab brothers and sisters in distress. On multiple occasions, representatives of the Saudi Kingdom have addressed this issue directly but many if not most news outlets always seem to miss out on including this information in the articles they publish. According to Saudi officials, “the kingdom was keen to not deal with them as refugees, or to put them in refugee camps, to preserve their dignity and safety, and gave them complete freedom of movement.”
What Saudi Arabia is doing is different from other countries are doing. Saudi Arabia is not just taking in refugees in the short term but is rather making scene refugees a part of their own kingdom as official residents.
“With that came the right to free education, healthcare, and employment according to a royal decree in 2012 that also states that Syrian students visiting the kingdom be admitted in public schools,” the official added.
The four Gulf States in total have donated more than 2.3 billion dollars which is more than Germany, Canada, Japan, Australia, France, and Italy combined. The Gulf countries also support the UN Refugee agencies in countries that neighbor Syria as well as funding Refugee camps in Iraq and Jordan that provide shelter to thousands of Syrian refugees. There are many more instances in the past few years where the Gulf countries have donated funds, food, clothing, and more to Syrians in Lebanon, Turkey, Jordan and more!
Saudi Arabia King Salman also launched a humanitarian ad campaign with the goal of collecting 27 million dollars to help those suffering in Syria so that the situation for those are still in Syria can improve. In this ad campaign, King Salman and other high-ranking officials contributed more than 40 million riyals. “Given what is happening to our brothers in Syria and those who are suffering, especially those displaced from Aleppo and other stranded because of the difficult circumstances and painful events in which they live, the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud – supported by God – has ordered the implementation of a humanitarian aid campaign that will encompass all regions of the Kingdom from tomorrow,” the statement carried by the Saudi Press Agency announced.
Saudi Arabia the Gulf countries have always and will continue to care for people suffering throughout the world. Though they may not boast about their achievements, they play their part and contribute more than most would.