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Refuge: The Neighboring Nations

When Europe and North America turned their backs on Syrian refugees, much of the obligation fell on neighboring nations.

  • Iraq accepted 200,000 Syrian refugees, while Jordan and other middle-income countries also took on thousands of exiles they couldn’t necessarily afford.
  • Uganda, likewise, embraced a generous approach to refugees. 
    has welcomed half a million exiles from Sudan, Somalia, Rwanda and elsewhere. Rather than set up camps, Uganda takes pains to integrate refugees into society. The exiles are allowed to work and to move about freely. Encouraging refugees to support themselves, Uganda gives the new arrivals small plots of land to farm. 

“The international architecture of refugee policy has remained unaltered, not because it works, but because its repeated failures have never sufficiently exploded into the headlines.”

And that’s the very definition of the phrase “ignorance is bliss”.

Not all neighboring nations have embraced refugees

Like the United States and Europe, the wealthy Gulf states of the Arab world have largely failed to shoulder their share of the burden. Given their vast wealth and their cultural similarities to Syria, these nations are the best-positioned to accept Syrian refugees. Yet the Gulf states have shown little willingness to extend generosity to Sunni Arabs in need. And I wonder why.


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