Queen Rania of Jordan doesn’t mince words: “Help and hope are in short supply,” she said of the refugee crisis straining her country. Speaking at the Women in the World Summit held in London at Cadogan Hall on Thursday, Queen Rania implored other countries to help Jordan provide support for the 1.4 million refugees currently living there. The refugees now comprise 20 percent of her nation’s population.
“A full 25 percent of our budget goes toward the cost of hosting those refugees,” she said. “Jordan is not a rich country, it’s not like the countries in the Gulf. The magnitude of this crisis has overwhelmed our ability to cope.”
“We can’t share what we don’t have,” she added, “and we don’t have much at this stage.”
Queen Rania advocates for a global approach to addressing the refugee crisis, rather that one that fixates on exactly how many people each country is willing to accept.
“The situation in Syria wouldn’t have gotten this bad if there wasn’t a standoff between different countries having different agendas and interests,” Queen Rania noted. “That standoff led to a standstill in policy when it comes to dealing with the crisis.”
Governments can help by creating settlements, providing humanitarian aid, or helping to address the political issues that led to the crisis, she said. As for those countries that don’t want to take in actual people, she urged that they “at least help the countries that are willing to take the refugees.”
Looking at refugees by the numbers risks dehumanizing them, she stressed. Lately she has been pounding the pavement to spread her message about confronting the refugee crisis through national media appearances such as her recent one on “Good Morning America,” and raising the issue at her public engagements.
She also spoke courageously and openly about the challenges facing the Muslim religion.
“Islamophobia is a very real thing,” Queen Rania warned. “It’s a very dangerous thing if we keep thinking of ISIS as Islamic.”
“There is nothing Islamic about them,” she added. Although ISIS militants “like to cloak their actions with the legitimacy of Islam,” she said, “they have killed more Muslims [than anybody else].”