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Helping out the refugees

Mar 27,2017 - Last updated at Mar 27,2017

Amid the unprecedented level of instability in the Levant, Arab leaders meet in Jordan for yet another summit. 

Arabs are far from being united. In fact, Arab leaders have spent the last few years jockeying for sway over the future of the region. Their differences bubbled up in the wake of the eruption of the Arab Spring.

Many Arab citizens believe that the summit may not break from usual mould and therefore no tangible outcome will see the light.

As a Jordanian citizen, I will not set myself up for another disappointment. No big decisions are going to be made. And yet, I hope the Arab leaders go beyond the why and what, to how to solve basic humanitarian issues.

Here, I am pointing out the most pressing issue: Syrian refugees.

Given the dire economic situation, Jordan shoulders most of the burden in the unending Syrian refugee crisis.

Arab leaders need to stand up for them. While they cannot take them back to Syria, there are other ways of helping the refugees.

A quick tour at some of their camps breaks the heart. So why cannot affluent Arab regimes help out financially to alleviate the dire situation of the refugees? And, why cannot they help out the hosting countries such as Jordan?

I do believe that refugees in Jordan should be treated as the rest of the Jordanians. I am not happy with them being treated as if they were invading our countries.  But, let us be frank: Jordan will not be able to meet its commitments towards more than 1.3 million refugees (20 per cent of the total population) when the rest of the Arab countries are doing nothing. 

Only 40 per cent of Jordan’s spending on refugees comes from abroad (not necessarily from Arab countries). 

Jordan budget suffers from a chronic budgetary deficit, to the extent that the government imposed taxes on almost every commodity and service.

As far as I am concerned, the only benchmark for the success of the Arab summit is the readiness of the rich Arab countries to help Jordan meet the basic needs of the refugees.

I do not expect the Arab leaders to solve the Syrian crisis, as it is way above their ability, let alone desire. 

Nor do I think that they will come up with a working initiative to put an end to the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian land, even though, of course, the final communiqué of the summit will stress Arab leaders’ commitment to a political solution to both the Syrian crisis and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Those two objective, noble as they may be, are beyond the ability of our countries. Nevertheless, setting up a fund for helping out refugees is a simple and doable step.

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