U.K. & France To Take In 44,000 Refugees But Wealthy Middle East Nations Limit Resettlement

Photo: AP Photo/Jens Meyer
Britain has joined the growing international initiative to address the long-term welfare of Syrians unable to return to their war-torn homeland.

Prime Minister David Cameron announced a plan on Monday for the U.K. to resettle up to 20,000 Syrian refugees and grant them "humanitarian protection" visas, CBS News reports. Calling it a matter of "moral responsibility," Cameron says the initiative will take place over the next five years and assist thousands residing in refugee camps in Turkey, Jordan, and Syria. Moreover, The Guardian notes the U.K. government is pledging an additional 100 million euros to specifically aid refugee children and orphans.

Meanwhile, an estimated 20,000 refugees entered Germany this past weekend alone, CBS reports. While some European nations are preparing to accept the largest influx of refugees, largely from Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan, Chancellor Angela Merkel publicly implored fellow E.U. countries to make resources available as well. She has also collaborated with France to begin distributing the economic and infrastructural resettlement load more evenly. To that end, TIME reports French President François Hollande also announced his country will accept 24,000 refugees, although unlike the U.K., their acceptance will be immediate.

However, refugees seeking shelter in neighboring Israel likely won't find a welcome home there, Bloomberg reports. On Sunday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced his country is looking into aid packages for North African nations, but that its size and limited internal resources prohibit it from sheltering people. “Israel is not indifferent to the human tragedy of the refugees from Syria and Africa,” Netanyahu said. “But Israel is a small country, a very small country, that lacks demographic and geographic depth; therefore, we must control our borders against illegal migrants and terrorism.”

In the Middle East, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, both Gulf states flush with oil-funded wealth and resources, have notably shied away from directly assisting the refugee resettlement, The New York Times reports. While their poorer neighbors, Turkey, Jordan, and Lebanon, are housing more than two million refugees and migrants, Saudi Arabia and Qatar have opted for financial aid. They are not offering asylum or possible citizenship — which Britain is now preparing to offer.

"We will continue to show the world that [the U.K.] is a country of extra compassion, always standing up for our values and helping those in need," Cameron told government officials.

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