The United States is planning to take in 5,000 more refugees next year in addition to its theoretical yearly intake of 70,000, U.S. officials said Wednesday.
The plan was proposed by the U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry during a closed-door meeting with lawmakers in the U.S. Congress Wednesday.
“We are committed to increasing the number of refugees that we take and we are looking hard at the number that we can specifically manage with respect to the crisis in Syria and Europe,” Kerry told reporters after meeting with lawmakers today. “That's being vetted right now and at the appropriate time we'll have the exact number.”
While countriess neighboring Syria are hosting millions of refugees and many countries in Latin America plan to admit thousands of Syrian refugees, the U.S. has so far admitted only 1,500 Syrian refugees since the beginning of the conflict about four years ago.
Just last week, Venezuela said that it would host up to 20,000 Syrian refugees. Hundreds of Syrian families are currently hosted in Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay and Chile.
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This small number accepted by the U.S. comes despite the fact that Washington is involved in the conflict through airstrikes in Syria, training Syrian rebels as well as indirectly fostering the rise of the Islamic State group due to its multiple invasions of Iraq, which helped fuel sectarianism in region.
Please help ask US officials to take in more refugees. How can we fight a war but not help those trying to escape its horrors?— Lexi Monsoon (@lexliesandvideo) September 9, 201
The Syrian conflict has so far left more than 200,000 people dead and millions displaced internally and as refugees in other countries. This year alone, over 322,000 refugees arrived in Europe by sea. Nearly 20,000 arrived in Munich this weekend.
Several U.S. officials confirmed that Kerry told lawmakers that the government was planning on taking in an additional 5,000 refugees next year.
"I think they finally recognize that an additional 5,000 is not a serious response," one Congressional aid told Reuters on condition of anonymity. Officials did not specify the exact number of Syrians that would be part of the planned 5,000.
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Europe and other industralized countries around the world have come under mounting criticism in recent weeks as thousands of refugees were stranded in Hungary after authorities denied them access into Austria amid the reluctance of rich European countries to accept refugees.
US presidential candidates most strongly touting Christian values oddly silent on Syrian refugees. Must be that New Bible.— ian bremmer (@ianbremmer) September 7, 201
Last month, the United Nations said that 86 percent of the global refugees are in developing countries.
Also, a recent photo showing the dead body of a three year-old Syrian boy off the coast of Turkey sparked an international outcry calling on Europe and other countries to admit refugees.
The U.N. said Monday that Europe must implement a plan to relocate up to 200,000 people, mostly Syrians, who under U.N. resolutions are entitled to protection as they are fleeing conflict zones.
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