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Jordan, Turkey lead top 10 countries hosting half of world’s refugees

Syrian refugees stand next to tents at the UN-run Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan in this Jan. 11, 2015, file photo. (AFP)
Syrian students at the UN-run Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan receive school supplies from the Saudi Campaign to support Syrian refugees. (SPA)

LONDON: Ten countries accounting for a meager 2.5 percent of world GDP are hosting 56 percent of the world’s refugees, with Jordan and Turkey on top of the list, Amnesty International said on Tuesday.
A report by Agence France Presse quoted the London-based group as saying it is unfortunate that many of the world’s wealthiest nations “host the fewest and do the least.”
“A small number of countries have been left to do far too much just because they are neighbors to a crisis,” said Amnesty secretary-general Salil Shetty, presenting the report entitled “Tackling the global refugee crisis: from shirking to sharing responsibility.”
Amnesty said the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has placed the number of world’s refugees at 21 million.
Jordan is the top refugee hosting country, taking in more than 2.7 million people, followed by Turkey (more than 2.5 million); Pakistan (1.6 million) and Lebanon (more than 1.5 million).
The remaining six nations listed in the top 10 each hosted hundreds of thousands of refugees: Iran (979,400); Ethiopia (736,100); Kenya (553,900); Uganda (477,200); Democratic Republic of Congo (383,100), and Chad (369,500).
“That situation is inherently unsustainable, exposing the millions fleeing war and persecution in countries like Syria, South Sudan, Afghanistan, and Iraq to intolerable misery and suffering.
“It is time for leaders to enter into a serious, constructive debate about how our societies are going to help people forced to leave their homes by war and persecution.”
“It is not simply a matter of sending aid money. Rich countries cannot pay to keep people ‘over there’,” it said.
The “self-interest” of such countries meant the international refugee crisis was set to get worse, not better, Amnesty claimed.
“If every one of the wealthiest countries in the world were to take in refugees in proportion to their size, wealth and unemployment rate, finding a home for more of the world’s refugees would be an eminently solvable challenge,” said Shetty.

Saudi Arabia’s role
The Amnesty report, however, failed to take into account the fact that some countries have taken in people displaced by war in their countries but are not treating them as refugees.
One such hosting country is the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, which has welcomed some 2.5 million Syrians who have fled since civil war erupted in Syria in 2011.
As explained repeatedly by Saudi officials, these Syrians are not treated as refugees in the Kingdom, but are instead given free health care and education and access to the Kingdom’s job market.
Crown Prince Mohammed bin Naif also stressed this point when he spoke at the Leaders Summit on Refugees in New York last month.
In his speech, Prince Mohammed noted that aside from taking in displaced Syrians and giving free education to students among them, the Kingdom has provided support to millions of refugees in the countries neighboring Syria with aid amounting to more than $800 million, in addition to charity given by Saudi citizens.
He added that for the Yemenis who sought refuge, Saudi Arabia considers them as visitors and have provided them with numerous facilities, including exemption from residence and work regulations.
The crown prince also said the Kingdom is offering free education to around 285,000 Yemeni students. He further assured the forum that Saudi Arabia is committed to providing more support to aid refugees.