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U.N. Refugee Summit…Numbers Don’t Lie - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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“We are facing a $20 billion gap, and we hope this summit will be able to fill it. Twenty billion dollars might be considered a huge number, yet it is less than what is spent on armament in four days or equivalent to the budget of a small bank. We have to fill this gap; and as fast as we can.”

This is how former President of the 70th General Assembly Mogens Lykketoft launched the Summit for Refugees and Migrants in New York on Monday.

Indeed, $20 billion is a huge amount of money, but numbers do not lie. Chaos and forgery are blurring the picture of who is really walking the talk in supporting refugees. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef delivered a speech before the summit, during which he revealed Saudi Arabia’s stance, silencing accusations and skepticism on the Kingdom’s role in aiding refugees.

It is time for the whole world to listen to reliable information and let go of rumors and speculations. Saudi Arabia is the country that offered $139 billion during the last four decades, and it is the third country globally in terms of the value of aids and humanitarian and developmental reliefs. It is neither France nor Britain; it is Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia is also the country that received 2.5 million Syrian citizens, not refugees, and has been giving them full freedom without imposing any restrictions or placing them in refugee camps in the cold.

Saudi Arabia is also the country that enrolled141,000 Syrian students and 285,000 Yemeni students in schools for free.

At the end, no country in the world has provided refugees with what Saudi Arabia has been granting them.

Certainly, what Riyadh has been doing did not happen recently or because of international pressure. In fact, Riyadh has been doing that according to a public policy it adopted decades ago long before the refugee crisis began.

The size of this unprecedented displacement and the fleeing of millions of people to asylum countries didn’t give these countries the chance to provide them with sustainable solutions. All what the Kingdom and some countries, like Turkey and Jordan, have been providing for Syrian refugees is considered temporary aid. The key lies in radical resolutions to rebuild displacement countries and bring refugees back to their homes.

Or, as Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef said, the Kingdom believes that the first and major step to deal with such crises is to intensify efforts to resolve ongoing conflicts in the world.

On the other hand, after five years of ravaging war and endless tragedies in Syria, there doesn’t seem to exist any realistic solution for the refugee crisis other than removing Bashar al-Assad from power.

Definitely, the presence of Assad in power and his repressive practices that have killed and displaced many people and violated human rights are the main reasons behind scattering 12 million Syrian asylum seekers around the world.

Last year, more than one million people were displaced due to the crises incurred upon the Middle East and North Africa region. Thousands of them died while trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea.

According to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the year of 2015 witnessed the highest level of forced displacement since World War II.

Without finding radical solutions to bring these wars to an end with real international willingness, refugee conditions will worsen no matter the size of the effort put by countries.

Salman Al-dossary

Salman Al-dossary

Salman Aldosary is the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper.

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