Almost daily one sees Muslims posting hysterically about the crisis in Syria and the plight of her refugees. Brutal images are shared of mangled bodies, grief-stricken women and children, and most recently the beached, dead bodies of children who had drowned when a boat filled with refugees capsized. But it seems that is where much of the Muslim world’s response ends: Facebook and Twitter. Now here is some disturbing perspective regarding the world community’s willingness —or lack thereof from those who are supposed to be the most concerned— to care for Syria’s refugee diaspora. Many will find the facts to be both painful and embarrassing.
The Germans have proposed taking in 30,000 Syrian refugees through its humanitarian admission program. That is a staggering number for a European nation. The entire country of Germany is about the size of the State of Texas and has a gross domestic product (GDP) at purchasing power parity (PPP) per capita income of $46,896.1
The Icelandic people are pressuring their government to take in more Syrian refugees saying they will host them in their own homes if necessary. Iceland is about the size of the State of Tennessee and has a per capita income of $45,269.
The United Kingdom has proposed that it should take in 10,000 Syrian refugees. The UK is about the size of the State of Michigan and has a per capita income of $40,676.
The United States of America has claimed it will accept the 17,000 Syrian refugees who have applied for entry. They took in 1,500 last year and have promised to at least double that number by next year. The USA has a per capita income of $56,421.
But let’s not forget those who have all the while been hosting 95% of all Syrian refugees for the past few years: Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt.2
Turkey hosts 1.6 million Syrian refugees. Turkey is around half the size of Alaska and has a per capita income of $20,188, which is below the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) average per capita income of $25,908.
Lebanon, a country of just 4.8 million people, hosts 1.1 million Syrian refugees making them 26% of the entire population. Lebanon is about half the size of the State of New Jersey and has a per capita income of $18,422, well below the OECD average per capita income of $25,908.
Jordan, a country of 6.5 million people, hosts 618,615 Syrian refugees making them nearly 10% of the entire population. Jordan is smaller than the State of Louisiana and has a per capita income of $12,213, below half of the OECD average per capita income of $25,908.
Iraq has hosted 225,373 Syrian refugees. Being a war torn country also currently beleaguered by ISIS, their reduced capacity is not surprising. In spite of this, they are hosting more than a quarter of a million Syrian refugees. Iraq is about the size of Montana and has a per capita income of $14,448, just over half of the OECD average per capita income of $25,908.
Egypt has hosted 142,543 Syrian refugees. It is between the size of Texas and Alaska and has a per capita income of $11,194, the lowest income on the list, and far, far below half of the OECD average per capita income of $25,908.
There are, of course, countries that have been far less helpful.
Slovakia, with a per capita income of $29,210 well above the OECD per capita average, says it will take in Syrian refugees but only if they are of the Christian faith. Syria is 90% Muslim.
Russia, Japan, Singapore and South Korea, all nations with healthy per capita incomes, have expressed absolutely no intention of assisting Syrian refugees. Singapore, which has an impressively strong per capita income of $85,198, well over three times the OECD per capita average, has shown absolutely no interest in accommodating Syrian refugees.
But what is most lamentable is that some of the richest nations on the planet which also happen to be conservative Muslim societies have been woefully behind in accommodating their Muslim brethren from Syria. While the Gulf Arab nations of Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Bahrain have donated tremendously for humanitarian relief in Syria (Saudi Arabia being the single largest donor in the world, with well over a quarter of a billion dollars to help refugees in both Iraq and Syria), they have done nothing to actually accommodate Syrian refugees into their countries.
Qatar has the highest per capita income on Earth of $143,532, five and a half times the OECD per capita average.
The United Arab Emirates has a per capita income of $65,149 making it the 7th highest in the world and well over double the OECD per capita average.
Saudi Arabia has a per capita income of $53,149, double the OECD per capita average.
Kuwait has a per capita income of $70,914, nearly three times the OECD per capita average.
Bahrain has a per capita income of $52,515, more than double the OECD per capita average.
These aforementioned Gulf nations could easily afford to accommodate, or arrange for accommodations, for each and every Syrian refugee. But they haven’t. Not a single Syrian refugee should have to apply for refugee status in Europe and America where they will be aggressively ministered to and pressured to convert to Christianity. Not a single Syrian refugee should sit in a squalid camp where Christian missions will go and manipulate their delicate emotional state and pressure them to convert to Christianity. It is happening! This is from a Christian missionary website:
“One Sunday when I was there we had 200 people in a room. We said, ‘Okay, you know that we are Christians and we believe in Jesus and we would like to pray for you.’ We shared the gospel with them. I’ve never seen so many people praying at the same time in my life, ever. All of them were Muslims. We said, ‘Do you want to give your life to Jesus?’ They said, ‘Yes,’ and they prayed. I don’t know if it’s because we were there, but I know they need Jesus. That’s all I know. That’s the maximum we can give them.”3
I didn’t quote the above to vilify this missionary. He’s doing what he believes his Lord has commanded him to do: Share the Gospel. Don’t we believe we are commanded to share Islam? But, regardless, neither Christianity, nor Islam, nor any religion for that matter, should be pushed on an emotionally vulnerable people like the indigent and hungry Syrian refugees. This is not serving God. It’s serving one’s self.
We need to step up our game because, quite frankly, when it comes to humanitarian causes for our own people we are being trounced by the Christian world while the wealthy of us think that throwing money at the problem will make it go away. Wealthy Muslim-majority nations need to stop with the multi-million dollar donations that are a drop in the bucket for them anyway and realize that the key component of the word “refugee” is “refuge”. Show-off donations are self-serving. Use that money to get involved, get on the ground, and start architecting programs to provide refuge for OUR refugees.
- All figures for GDP PPP were taken from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) website http://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/weo/2015/01/weodata/index.aspx [↩]
- All figures for the number of Syrian refugees in Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt were taken from Amnesty International’s article Facts & Figures: Syria refugee crisis & international resettlement, 12/5/2014 https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2014/12/facts-figures-syria-refugee-crisis-international-resettlement/ [↩]
- An Insider’s Glimpse into the Syrian Refugee Crisis, Christian Aid Mission, 10/24/2013 http://www.christianaid.org/News/2013/mir20131024.aspx [↩]