Millions of Syrian refugees currently vacating their homeland due to the civil war and ongoing unrest are finding a welcoming of sorts in European countries.
Yassir Batal fled from Syria to Germany in order to find solace and protection. Now, he and his family agree that they have greatly benefitted from the country and can relate to its customs and values.
“In Europe, I can get treatment for my polio, educate my children, have shelter and live an honorable life,” Batal said to Bloomberg News. He also says that traveling to Saudi Arabia or another Gulf nation, where the culture, religion and language are virtually the same as his, is out of the question.
Many of the Arab Gulf nations have provided millions of dollars in aid to those still living in Syria. However, those who flee find it difficult to enter any of the Arab nations due to their strong immigration policies and long waiting periods for visas.
So far, the United Arab Emirates has given $540 million in relief and humanitarian assistance to help Syrian refugees establish camps and pay for travel expenses. But the Gulf nations are constantly worried about security breaches in their nation.
“The Gulf states have always been very worried about security threats from Syrian refugees,” Michael Stephens, a Middle East researcher at the Royal United Services Institute for Defense and Security Studies, said about the conflict.
While Syrians can apply for a tourist visa or work permit in order to enter and stay in the Gulf nations, the process is time consuming and expensive, BBC News reported.
Social media is now affecting these types of immigration policies. The Arabic hashtag #Welcoming_Syria’s_refugees_is_a_Gulf_duty was used more than 33,000 times on Twitter this week. Moreover, photographs showcasing the harsh obstacles that Syrian refugees have to face – from children being carried over barbed wire to people drowned at sea – have also increased pressure on Gulf nations to ease restrictions on opening their doors to the refugees.
However, Gulf nations seem to have no interest so far in assisting the Syrian citizens. For example, most outside employees come from Southeast Asia for unskilled labor. Also, many of the nation’s governments tend to look out for native citizens and will only assist those from other areas if they feel necessary to do so.