Friday, 4 September 2015

"Why doesn't Saudi Arabia take refugees?"

Miss Whirlwind wanted to know yesterday. I had delivered some footwear for her to go exploring the creek banks and she took the opportunity to ask me a question her teachers don't really want to try and answer. 
One of them actually said to me, "Cat, if you can explain it then explain it to us as well. We're trying to make sure the girls understand the situation without upsetting them but still involving them."
I can't explain. I am not sure that anyone can. How can a country like Saudi Arabia not take in a single refugee?  They speak the same language. It's a different dialect but it is still the same language.  They are the same religion. There are denominational differences for some but it is the same religion. The customs may differ but they differ in the way that Downunder customs differ with those in much of Europe  - not so much that you can't fit in.
Saudi Arabia also employs well over a million domestic workers to keep the locals in their comfortable lifestyle. Yes, it's a rich country - a very rich country. 
There is also Bahrain - another wealthy country - where the situation is much the same. And there are some smaller states like Qatar and Kuwait which are also wealthy. 
They are all built on the same Islamic base and none of them take in a single refugee. They haven't signed the refugee convention. People don't try to go there. They know they won't be accepted. Why?
These states have been "helping" by funding the crisis. They are perhaps even at war with each other but they are doing it on neighbouring territory.
Almost nothing is said about the inaction of the Arab states and their Gulf Cooperation Council. They get almost no criticism. Refugee advocates almost never mention the lack of  help from that region. Write a letter to the paper and in all likelihood it will not get published. Why?
I looked at the Whirlwind. She wanted an answer. I asked her a question,
"What's under the ground in Saudi Arabia?"
I saw her work it out in an instant.
"You mean people want petrol for their cars?"
Yes, the oil.
Is that fair?  

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