Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson wrote an editorial for political newspaper The Hill reflecting on his tour of Syrian refugee camps in Jordan. The retired neurosurgeon concluded that Arab nations neighboring Syria must take in more refugees and integrate them within their societies.
Carson visited Jordan over Thanksgiving weekend, touring a refugee camp and speaking with several displaced Syrians. He shared that many refugees had told him that “they would like to go back to Syria,” according to The Washington Times.
Carson called on the international community to help support nations like Jordan and to provide financial aid to these camps.
“Refugees that I talked to in more than one camp were very grateful for what the Jordanians have done, but people are not giving enough money to support those efforts,” Carson said, according to The Washington Times.
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The retired neurosurgeon has elaborated in a Dec. 1 op-ed for The Hill, calling for more Arab nations to help millions of displaced Syrians.
Carson fears that Syrians are in danger of becoming similar to Palestinians, who have “been allowed to languish and be used as a political pawn.”
The GOP candidate acknowledges that many Syrian refugees are allowed to live in the cities in nations such as Turkey and Jordan, but that they have become economically limited, prohibited from work and watching as their savings dwindle. Carson then painted a bleak picture of Azraq, one of the refugee camps.
He wrotes in The Hill:
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"The camp is a bleak expanse of row after row of white sheet metal shelters. There is no electricity or air conditioning or heat against the scalding desert summer temperatures or cold winds of winter. Lack of electricity adds further hardship, as people are forced to choose between having light to see their way to the bathroom at night (six shelters share one bathroom) and charging their cellphones, which connects them to family and the outside world."
Carson wrote that instead of Western nations taking on the responsibility of taking in Syrian refugees, the bulk of responsibility should be placed on neighboring Arab nations, which “share their language, culture, ethnicity and religion.”
The retired neurosurgeon singles out the countries of the Arabian Gulf, including Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. He believes they should not only provide more aid and refuge for the displaced Syrians, but that they allow them to integrate into their societies.
Critics of Carson’s proposals say he is simplifying that Syrian refugee crisis. Melanie Nezer, a policy director of the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, says that Arab nations are already strained by accommodating refugees and that “We can’t just say to these countries that the burden is completely on them,” reports Reuters.
“I could watch brain surgery for a day or two; that doesn’t make me a brain surgeon,” says Nezer. “You cannot get an appreciation for the scale of this crisis and the global implications of it by spending a day or two talking to a few refugees in one location.”