refugees_post_5Why doesn’t Saudi Arabia accept any refugees? It’s a common enough comment, and one that hundreds of people have sent in to us here at Debating Europe. Saudi Arabia is one of the richest countries in the region, and yet it allegedly hosts a grand total of zero(!) refugees, while nearby Turkey has received millions, and hundreds of thousands have fled to Europe.

We had a comment sent in from Klassen, arguing that wealthy Gulf Arab states should do more to shoulder their share of the burden:

citizen_icon_180x180You have Kuwait, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia etc., who refuse to take in refugees, and it seems to me they are fiscally in better shape than us to do so. What’s up with that?

Social media has been abuzz with posts exposing the apparent hypocrisy of rich Middle Eastern oil states. For example, the UK-based Islamic news website IlmFeed posted the following infographic on their Facebook page, where tens of thousands of people liked and shared it:


But it’s more complicated than that. IlmFeed has been forced to admit that the numbers quoted in its infographic were misleading, and has since published a correction. The reason why Saudi Arabia appears to be hosting “zero” refugees is essentially because its legal system does not accept the existence of refugees; it is one of the few countries in the world that never ratified the 1951 United Nations Convention relating to the Status of Refugees.

In other words, Saudi Arabia has no legal obligation to recognise asylum applications. Nevertheless, Saudi Arabia is hosting many Syrians fleeing their country’s civil war; according to the UN’s refugee agency, UNHCR, there are half a million Syrian “brothers and sisters in distress” living in Saudi Arabia. Officially classified as “migrant workers”, their position is precarious and they do not have the same rights afforded to refugees (for instance, Saudi Arabia has a history of carrying out summary deportations of hundreds of thousands of migrant workers at a time).

Nevertheless, there are those in Europe who suggest we copy the Saudi Arabian model. For example, we had a comment sent in by S.K. arguing that Europeans should tear up the 1951 refugee convention and start mass deportations:

citizen_icon_180x180I have a politically incorrect solution… How about we stop giving them asylum?!? […] I know it is politically incorrect and I know that under current international laws it’s questionable if not illegal, [so] my suggestion is: let’s change the international laws to make it legal.

Let people [continue to] legally get asylum in neighbouring countries, and / or on their own continent, but make it clear that this system does not exist to make someone’s dream of living in Paris, Zürich, London etc., become a reality…

Should the 1951 refugee convention be reformed? Is a legal framework designed to cope with population displacements following the Second World War still fit for the 21st century? Has globalisation changed things so much that we need a new set of rules? Or would abandoning our international obligations lead inevitably to the erosion of our values and liberties, with mass arrests and deportations the new norm?

To get a reaction, we put S.K.’s suggestion to Barbar Baloch, Spokesperson for Central Europe for the United Nation’s refugee agency, UNHCR. Here’s what he had to say:

For another perspective, we also spoke to Timothy Kirkhope, a British Conservative MEP whose government has been notoriously wary of international legal commitments (see, for example, their various objections to the European Convention on Human Rights). Did he therefore support scrapping the international rules governing asylum seekers and refugees?

Should the international right of asylum be scrapped? Are rules drawn up to cope with a post-WWII refugee crisis still fit for the 21st century and the myriad pressures of globalisation? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below, and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!

75 comments Post a commentcomment

What do YOU think?

  1. avatar
    Ivan Burrows

    The whole European project of forced integration was invented in an attempt to answer problems of the last century, it has no place in this one.

    Saudi Arabia do not accept the migrants for a very simply reason, they are the wrong kind of migrants, i.e. the wrong kind of Muslims.

    • avatar


  2. avatar
    Muscas Anne

    No comparison to the past century. Let these leaders of today prepare rules and regulations for today’s great problems. Fast! Before more tragedies occur! Combat terrorism. Stop the Sacred war. Enough is enough!

  3. avatar
    Zoltan Kiss

    They must be revised for sure. Uncontrolled mass immigration must be scrapped for sure.

    • avatar
      Yordan Vasilev

      Yes! Europe has a limit of capacity.

  4. avatar
    Christian Weale

    Absolutely NOT!

    To scrap the international right of asylum would be a catastrophic move!

    The right to asylum is and should remain a human right and everyone who applies for political asylum should always be treated fairly and with human dignity!

    • avatar
      Paul X

      Fine attitude back in in the days when small minorities were escaping persecution…….. hardly appropriate today when whole populations are wanting to escape a country

      Like it or not, it boils down to the fact that too many want to come and the taxpayers of a country should not be expected to foot the bill for them to stay

    • avatar

      I completely agree. No one is above anyone. if the shoe was on the other foot opinions would change. Just because your born on one price of land doesn’t give people to the right to make themselves better than anyone else or have more rights.

    • avatar

      I agree. If they got rid of the INTERNATIONAL RIGHT of asylum, there could be terrorist attacks because of this. Also, would it be racist to do something like this? A terrible thought indeed.

  5. avatar
    Ainhoa Lizar

    Merkel, Junckers, Mogherini, Schulz and the rest of the corrupt traitors should be arrested and sent to jail! They are a threat to Europe and Europeans. What they did to this continent will have serious consequences in the short and long term and probably will change the course of the history of this continent! No one ever in the history damaged this much Europe and it´s people!

  6. avatar
    Ferenc Lázár

    The world has changed completely since 1945, now there are mostly muslims fighting muslims for it’s completely foolish to have the same asylium rules for all, concerning that rich Muslim countries like Saudi, Dubai, Kuweit aren’t taking any responsibilities for their fellow muslims!

    • avatar

      Treat others as you wish to be treated. Just because someone else does something wrong doesn’t make you any better to follow. If it was me I would want help…

  7. avatar

    I am the S.K in the Question, as my point already pointed out I do not agree that someone from another continent should be able to travel through numerous safe nations in order to use their refugee status to fullfill their dream of living in London,Paris,Zürich etc., I believe that if you are Syrian you go and get asylum in Qatar,Saudi Arabia,Bahrain or anyone of the half a dozen or so safe countries in the middle east, life there might not be all that or in the case of Dubai it might be really luxurious but they should stay in their part of the world, and if eg someone from France ever needed asylum they stay in Europe and ask for asylum in places as far away as Iceland,Rumania,Bulgaria etc. and not Dubai,China,Panama etc., each continent is big enough to take up their own people, in the case of Australia which is a whole continent maybe special rules would need to apply, but to stay on point no one really answered my question because their jobs depend on them saying yes to everythig asylum, they dont have a answer as to why a European country should take up someone from a far away land that travelled through numerous safe countries, all they can answer is well the right to asylum helped many people, its in essence a non answer like burgers taste good or sun light can make you feel good, and for them its the safest answer that simply stands by the status quo. There is also something id call the natural right of every nation to preserve its way of life,Freedom and Security, Im from Western Europe, our ways of life are declared in our Constitutions, but the Constitution is only so much in effect as there are people around you that believe in it and live the Constitution in their daily lives, currently there are massive amounts of people coming into our Countries from Middle Eastern Countries where things like equality between man and woman, religious freedom, freedom of speech etc. are not respected as it is here, this means that if you are a unlucky person to be dealing with these people then it can be that certain things are not in effect, I am not prepared to give up my freedom and my security in order to help in some knee jerk manner, we must start thinking about ourselves first and then decide what to do about other people.

    • avatar

      Everyone is entitled to their option and I am commenting not to dismiss yours. Unfortunately people in counties in situations find it difficult to move to neighbouring counties for help. And yes they should help them but they are not.
      Western culture is taking the world by storm. As the U.K. Is a great influence they should lead by example. Of course they cannot house everyone but intervention must be considered. Poorer countries are exploited and some cases are for developing counties gain. As a community in humanity we must treasure every human life. Of course financially and economically issues arise such as housing….however if a country looses their humanity there isn’t much left…

  8. avatar
    Beate Dunn

    Globalisation on the way to self-destruction ? The craddle of the civilization, the wonderful EU tradition, culture, (art), Christian roots ? …….There are many places (in other countries which are safe or in countries which support Isis) for refugees and immigrants in (what is crucial) -same religious environment–Let EU finance such solutions……

  9. avatar
    Vicente Silva Tavares

    Terror in Europe has been done by the children of refugees and migrants. Muslims do not integrate in other cultures. They refuse to integrate and therefore loose opportunities of work. Their children get frustrated and get in criminality. What is the point to import more people that we know from start they will not integrated and will turn against us? Why the do-gooders do not read the Quran. It is there well written several times that their aim is to dominated the world and kill the people do not submit. Islam is the only religion that promotes violence.

  10. avatar
    Vicente Silva Tavares

    Terror in Europe has been done by the children of refugees and migrants. Muslims do not integrate in other cultures. They refuse to integrate and therefore loose opportunities of work. Their children get frustrated and get in criminality. What is the point to import more people that we know from start they will not integrated and will turn against us? Why the do-gooders do not read the Quran. It is there well written several times that their aim is to dominated the world and kill the people do not submit. Islam is the only religion that promotes violence.

  11. avatar
    Jose Quintans

    Painkillers don’t heal.

    All refugees escaping from war must be returned to their country of origin once peace is reestablished.

    Another thing to think about, Africa is going to send refugees forever, escaping from famine and wars.

    Better help those people in their country of origin, our money can make a bigger impact in their societies, than bringing them here.

    Otherwise we’ll have to deal with increasing tensions, because Muslims won’t integrate, and we’ll have to pay more taxes for more police, and loose freedom.

  12. avatar
    Jose Quintans

    Painkillers don’t heal.

    All refugees escaping from war must be returned to their country of origin once peace is reestablished.

    Another thing to think about, Africa is going to send refugees forever, escaping from famine and wars.

    Better help those people in their country of origin, our money can make a bigger impact in their societies, than bringing them here.

    Otherwise we’ll have to deal with increasing tensions, because Muslims won’t integrate, and we’ll have to pay more taxes for more police, and loose freedom.

    • avatar
      Paul X

      Exactly the policy of the UK who are the second largest contributor of foreign aid after the US

      This is the same UK who have been criticised throughout the EU for not wanting to take refugee quotas but preferring to try and address the issue at source.

      Are we likely to see Juncker and Merkle admit they were wrong and the UK was right?….not a chance, hell will freeze over before anyone of the EU elite ever admits they were wrong about anything

  13. avatar
    Rui Duarte

    There is nothing wrong with giving asylum to someone who is «persecuted» for religious or political reasons, but what we are witnessing is an uncontrolled mass migration. This is not asylum.

  14. avatar

    The persecuted should always be given safe haven . The Dublin treaty should though be more strictly enforced to stop mass migrations of peoples .

  15. avatar
    Yannick Cornet

    Hey good point. Lets go back to the nationalistic rules that led to WWII, good idea. Did you know by the way that Syrians are quite probably the first proven climate refugees? I don’t think a pre-21st century idea of border control is quite the solution that will resolve our real 21st century problems.

  16. avatar
    Tgame Bond

    Muslims are not good product of refugees…They refused to integrate. ..They are so wicked and backstaber. …when they got what, they want, They pretend to Like Christian, if they need something like settlements of getting benefits and residents permits. ..After that’s, they will force they devilish religion on innocent people. .If you are married to them. …They teach they children to kill and so many Evil things! !! Shameless elements

  17. avatar
    Siva Nesan Jesu

    The way things are with the Subdued- by- Islam world, as my close observation of 67 years shows, it will be releasing humanity from suffering and agony if the entire Christian world spontaneouly overnight convert to Islam! And then see what ruling style Allah will assume aface the rest of the world.

  18. avatar
    Richard Osborne

    When will we stop calling it a refugee crisis and start admitting it’s a migration exodus??

  19. avatar
    Paolo Viti

    Yes, definitely yes! Enough of this incredibly foolish attitude as already there are far too many here and is is creating not only a social burden but also an economic plight for us all!

  20. avatar
    John Osborne

    The Saudis are refusing to take “refugees”because it “may”lead to a terrorist attack, but it’s ok for the Western world to take them in? I call it invasion by stealth. A refugee doesn’t turn up wearing designer clothes, fit and healty and carrying a mobile phone. When are the governments going to wake up? Either shoot the bastards or send them back to the sandpit they came from

  21. avatar

    How can we answer this question when we are not given the details of this right? Countries should be free to decide for themselves whether they take refugees or not. Is there an actual estimate of the percentage of Syrians amongst the hoards traversing Europe supposedly with the intention of claiming asylum?

  22. avatar

    A true refugee fearing for their life will claim asylum where s/he is safe, will not refuse to be registered, be aggressive to police, tear down barriers and fences in order to force their way in etc. What about the people that sew their lips together? If they can do this to themselves can you imagine what they are capable of doing to others? Only peaceful people that embrace the local values should be allowed in.

  23. avatar
    EU reform- proactive

    There are good reasons why the old “1951 UN Refugee Convention” in today’s Europe is outdated & in need of change!

    The European Council (47 states) and not the EU- should recompose & adapt it to the new & emerging realities. The simple reason is that the unchecked migration of Muslims into the heartland of Europe is being mismanaged by the ruling EU28 & its Council- despite all available resources & experience.

    The “1990 Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam (CDHR)” is incompatible with the UN & European Universal Declaration on Human Rights (UDHR) and
    was a declaration of the member states of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) and inconsistent with the UDHR!

    Why? The OIC affirmed Islamic Sharia as its one & only source and makes a mockery of our established Human Rights of e.g. for Woman. Are EU politicians condoning this fact & plan to import some Sharia in future?

    One should not confuse & abuse religious freedom and (EU) Human Rights & “privileges” to be pc! Rather let every Muslim refugee chose to sign (before granting them asylum, residence or work etc) a declaration to comply to the European Convention on Human Rights, the countries national laws, to willingly integrate & renounce their CDHR based on Sharia. Should the person refuse- give notice to deport them to a Muslim country where Sharia is the NORM & freely practiced.

    The European NORM in not Sharia but parliamentary democracy and adherence to UDHR! Further, Muslim countries are non signatories to the original UDHR and most are in total chaos & need to change from within- not by an arrogant US- to order regime change from Washington.

    Why should these countries fully benefit from a stable, secular Europe & their laws?

  24. avatar
    catherine benning

    Unless you can fully register anyone claiming any kind of right to reside, then none of them should be accepted. They are not to be trusted with our lives and we are the first port of call to elected Europeans protection. After all we pay governments to look after ‘OUR’ best interests as a matter for their priority.

  25. avatar

    This right should never be scrapped.

  26. avatar
    Ivan Burrows


    Mama Merkel has already scrapped it.

    Germany wanted the migrants, Germany can have them, all of them.

  27. avatar
    Dominique Couturier

    Je participerais bien au débat, mais je ne pige pas la question dans ses nuances éventuelles. J’ai pourtant fait plus de 7 ans d’anglais. Donc je suis exclue “de facto” du débat. Deux poids deux mesures, en Europe il y a deux sortes de citoyens: ceux qui ont réussi à BIEN maîtriser l’anglais et ceux qui parlent globish.
    Les réfugiés parlent souvent un pauvre globish, sauf ceux qui sont issus de classes bourgeoises (il y en a pas mal puisque les voyage nécessite du fric).
    Je suis pour l’ouverture des frontières et l’accueil des réfugiés.

  28. avatar
    Dominique Couturier

    Ayant relu la question, je pige mieux “WWII” Punaise les mecs vous pourriez faire un effort zut… “2 ème guerre mondiale” ce serait pas plus compliqué d’écrire “second world war”? Non seulement vous posez vos questions en anglais, mais dans un anglais “d’anglophone pratiquant”. Tiens ça me fait penser aux religions. Il y a les anglophones qui ont été “baptisés” à l’école, mais qui ne pratiquent pas (de seconde zone), et les “pratiquants”, ceux qui réussissent à s’intégrer à la communauté des “élites” mondiales…

  29. avatar
    Toni Muñiz

    No, past refugees have nothing to do with present situation. Was there a riskj of yihadists amongst refugees back then? Is there now?

  30. avatar
    Enric Mestres Girbal

    What’s happening in Europe with migrants/refugees is a big laugh !!!hahaha. Do you know Merkel has drop her trousers before Erdogan?…Yes, now she is in skirt and no nikers.

    • avatar

      Yes, instead of the dole queues in the ‘west’.

  31. avatar
    Stephanie Morgan


  32. avatar

    Imagine if it was you…for one moment…leaving your family and your life behind because it is no longer save…no one wants do that. Westernisation is sweeping across countries and the developed countries should support the under developed. It is there duty to do so…I mean those under developed are exploited enough anyway. No ones life or happiness is above anyone else’s. Economics or not…politics and media drive social norms…we should break free of it all.

  33. avatar

    Yes, because clearly it has been abused. People should be helped where they live.
    There are people in the world who are dying of starvation who have no right to asylum, but it seems these days it is constantly, the plight of the moslem.
    Let them pray to Allah.

  34. avatar
    Demon Lee

    From my view the EU Schengen Agreement was always going to be a problem and I was glad the UK opted out at the time… the benefit of that opt out is now clear to see.

    What really galls me is that under the EU Treaties and International Treaties, Refugees are supposed to seek Asylum in the first safe country they arrive in… but it doesn’t happen, countries either issue Temporary EU Passports to allow them to continue on their travels or permit them crossing illegally over national borders.

    I would estimate that possibly as many as 90% are not even genuine refugees, they have just seized upon the opportunity to up sticks and move… if I were in charge of EU Borders, I would make a very simple change to the law.

    1. If you arrive and have no means of Identification or proof of origin- NO ENTRY.

    2. If you have identification and it proves to be fake – IMMEDIATE DEPORTATION.

    3. If you have identification and have applied for Political Asylum, restricted entry should be permitted into a ‘Camp’ with decent facilities until an investigation into the claim is proved or not. If proven, full refugee status permitted for 3yrs, then subject to review, if not proven, DEPORTATION.

    In addition to that, with so many EU Countries having borders with the sea or another NON EU Country, then the EU Countries need to co-operate and patrol these borders efficiently and effectively by all possible means – why do I say that? Because what we are seeing is an INVASION of Europe and we need to round all those creating this problem by smuggling people across the sea and across borders – for the smugglers I would even have a shoot to kill policy as they not only fleece the people being smuggled, they are making millions that they pay no tax on, they create misery wherever they ply their vile trade and frankly, the world is better of without them.

    • avatar

      yes now that makes sense to me

  35. avatar

    Reading through the comments to this ubiquitous yet thought-evoking question has left me sitting behind my computer in silence.
    How can humans be so inhumane?
    Some may call my attitude emotional, I call it realistic.
    If one were to speak based on facts and not mere corrupt opinions, they would see that the largest deaths caused by ISIS are not in fact upon westerners, or Christians, or Europeans…but upon Muslims (mainly from countries that they are based in such as Syria).
    Now why is this? Because they are EXTREMISTS (kinda in the name). They are not normal, or average, or common Muslims. They are extremists who also happen to be Muslims.
    Islam is as much to do with ISIS as Christianity is to the with the KKK.
    I am not defending terrorists, I condemn them with all my mind no matter what religion or cause they work for. I am defending humans, who flee terrorists only to face vexatious people who (out of their lack of knowledge) suspect them to be terrorists also.
    Let me leave you with one question…
    Say I was to murder a person, or even to bomb a whole city, and said I was doing it in the name of Mickey Mouse. Who would be condemned for it? Me or Mickey?
    Similarly, if a terrorist is savage enough to kill a fellow human being, they are evil, not the Allah that they claim their actions to be in the name of.
    (P.S. before saying something stupid like “violence is in the Quran”, go and try reading it (if you are smart enough to learn one of the world’s most complex/ancient languages which you probably are not considering intelligent people don’t make such iniquitous comments. And only then will you see that it isn’t).
    To the cognizant few, thank you. To the ignorant many go and educate yourselves by watching this video
    You’re welcome.

  36. avatar

    So the rights of asylum seekers as enshrined in the universal declaration of human rights are fine as long as there aren’t too many seeking asylum, but the moment there is need based on a real and present danger to life, we think about scrapping the laws. To me that says we are a civilisation that places great value on lofty principles until those principles need to be manifested. Then we revert to self interest.

    09/05/2018 Sebastien Maire, Chief Resilience Officer of the City of Paris, has responded to this comment.

    09/05/2018 Aurelien Legrand, Paris Departmental Secretary for the anti-immigration Front National (FN) party, has responded to this comment.

  37. avatar

    The rights to asylum have to be brought up to date , as they are being misused and do not reflect today’s problems , and the misuse of asylum and refugee status.
    Also either all countries accept asylum or none should . Arab and Asian nations have to accept asylum seekers , just like the West , or the UN and NGOs should be told to shutup , and be dissolved .

  38. avatar

    Seeing the misuse of the asylum agreements , then the agreements should be either be scrapped or renegociated , and this should include taking back asylum seekers whose claims have failed .

  39. avatar

    How many potential asylum seekers are on the world?
    We have a rule, which has criteria. If someone meets the criteria, then we should (must) give him asylum.
    If the criteria hold true for, lets say, half of the population of the Earth, or even a tenth of it, then, I would say, the criteria are inappropriate.
    The EU (or any given country) simply is unable to give asylum for half of the world!

  40. avatar

    If they scrap the right of asylum, then refugees and migrants will most likely resort to violence and protest. And these protests will make people not feel so good.

  41. avatar

    If we do this, then terrible things could happen. There could be terrorist attacks and lots of protests. Also, it seems racist to do this.

  42. avatar
    Clementine Guiminel

    It is not acceptable than somebody cannot stay in a country just because of there origins. If they do that, the terrorism will increase.

  43. avatar
    Themis pauwels

    I think that the right to asylum should not be canceled because it can save the life of some people. We often don’t realize it but some people live a real hell in their country, and when they finally manage to escape it is a hard ordeal and I think that instead of making them flee, we should welcome and support them and I think that the right of asylum is a good way to support refugees while they are waiting for papers.

  44. avatar

    I think that the asylum should never be scrapped because it is important to a human being that does not feel in security, especially after fleeing they home country. The European Union is an area of protection for people fleeing persecution or serious harm in their country of origin. Asylum is a fundamental right and an international obligation for countries, as recognized in the 1951 Geneva Convention on the protection of refugees. So, for it to be scrapped is disrespectful.

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