KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 21 ― Deputy Yang di-Pertuan Agong Sultan Nazrin Shah today called on Muslim majority nations to make more effort to aid Muslim refugees worldwide.
In his royal address at the inaugural Kuala Lumpur Summit 2019 here, Sultan Nazrin who is also the Perak Ruler took note of the discussions by delegates from over 50 Muslim countries over the last two days centred on the theme of development to enhance their national sovereignty.
However, he told the delegates that foremost for him was how to help Muslims most in need of assistance worldwide ― those made refugees without a nation to call their own.
“What about those members of the ummah, our Muslim brothers and sisters who have been forced to abandon their homes and flee their homelands because of hardship, conflict and persecution?
“We are facing a crisis of mounting severity. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees reports more displaced persons in the world now than at any time since the end of the Second World War. There are around 70 million displaced persons worldwide.
“Of these almost 26 million are refugees. Nearly 10 million of the refugees ― well over a third ― come from Muslim-majority countries. They have been rendered nationless by the failure of states to care for them and by the bombs and bullets of war.
“Millions, including children, women and the elderly face shocking abuse, suffering and deprivation. How might we build and act on our conversations about national sovereignty and development in order to help them?” asked Sultan Nazrin.
He said the “harsh reality” was that many Muslim nations have not done enough to help Muslim refugees from wartorn countries such as Syria, Iraq, Palestine, Afghanistan and Iraq.
But the monarch acknowledged that Turkey and Lebanon have done their best to alleviate the crisis with the former hosting over 3.7 million refugees ― the most in the world ― and latter hosting 1.5 million refugees ― the highest number of refugees per capita.
Other Muslim nations that he mentioned included Jordan, Pakistan and Iran for hosting vast number of refugees.
Sultan Nazrin observed that the majority of these refugees would rather seek shelter with European countries and risks the Mediterranean’s cold waters instead of heading to countries closer to them such as Saudi Arabia.
“I vividly remember one Syrian refugee back in 2015 eloquently commenting that, “we will tell our children that Syrian migrants fled their country to come to Europe when Makkah and Muslim lands were closer to them”.
“I was also deeply moved by the words of another, comparing the German Chancellor Angela Merkel to the Abyssinian Christian King Negus, who famously sheltered Muslim refugees during their first Hijrah in the time of Prophet Muhammad sallallahu ‘alayhi wassalam,” he said.
Sultan Nazrin also acknowledged that the refugees preferred Europe since they believe Europe will afford them greater opportunities; better access to education; routes to financial security; and the freedom, dignity, and human rights they were stripped of in their home countries.
He added that the Muslim world can do so much more as it develops and grows in wealth and power.
He also observed that many Muslim-majority nations have become more affluent and could work harder to raise awareness, contribute to global dialogue while providing the financial and material support that humanitarian aid efforts desperately needs.
The deputy Agong reminded the delegates of Islamic history when the Ansar tribe of Medina hosted the Muhajirun refugees from Mecca who fled to the city to escape persecution by Mecca’s ruling Quraish tribe during the founding years of Islam.
At the same time, the popular ruler dubbed as the people’s sultan took note that the Summit has already begun addressing some of the root reasons behind displaced populations and refugees.
He said that a comprehensive and sustainable development focussing on poverty eradication and improving livelihood can put in place healthy political institutions and administrative structures capable of producing good governance to protect the rights of all citizens as well as refugees.
“In this sense, our focus on development at this summit has huge potential to improve the lives of Muslim refugees the world over.
“As Muslim nations become more prosperous, more stable, and more developed in terms of technology, education, and work opportunities, they become better placed to offer hopeful, safe and productive lives to refugees seeking fresh hope and new homes.
“They also become more able to fund humanitarian efforts, and to command greater power and sway on the world stage, in order to ensure that nations pay attention to the crisis as well,” he said.
To achieve this lofty goal, Sultan Nazrin said that Muslim nations must care about issues beyond its own borders.
Tackling the problems faced by Muslim refugees and those left without nations must become a priority and greater dialogue is key to resolve the biggest humanitarian crisis the world has ever seen.