The richest Arab nations are refusing to take in Syrian refugees. Persian Gulf countries such as Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Kuwait have pledged or donated hundreds of millions of dollars, but won’t resettle those fleeing the Syrian civil war that has been raging for more than four years.
Nearly half of Syria’s pre-war population of more than 20 million people have been displaced within Syria or have fled the country, according to the United Nations.
“The bottom line is that in terms of resettlement, the Gulf states have not stepped up in accepting refugees,” said Geoffrey Mock, the Syria specialist for Amnesty International USA. “They have offered zero resettlement places … and this is shameful.”
It is an international tragedy about which we can do nothing. We think of those 20 million people displaced by war and we imagine, accurately, that among them are innocent children. UNICEF estimates that there are 7.5 million children affected by the brutal four-year-old conflict in Syria. Children have been put at risk by unrelenting violence, crumbling infrastructure, ruined schools and hospitals and shortages of essential supplies.
Refugee camps in the countries bordering Syria are overflowing. There are now 2 million child refugees who have fled Syria. That’s more than the combined under-18 populations of Los Angeles and Boston.
What does God expect from us when so many are languishing? I believe he expects our awareness, our earnest prayer and our voices that are not afraid to speak out against wrong. God, give us a prophetic voice.
God, give us a prophetic voice that speaks of harm and pain;
A voice that claims injustice wrong, that calls the hurt by name.
God, give us a courageous voice that speaks against all wrong;
A voice that sees when harm is done, that sings oppression’s song.
God, give us now compassion’s voice that we might offer peace;
A voice that comforts through the night, that bids the darkness cease.
God, help us find our voice again when silence words erase,
When evil overtakes the words of righteousness and grace.
Hymn by Kathy Manis Findley, 2013