The United States will increase the number of refugees it takes in by 15,000 over each of the next two years, bringing the total to 100,000 in 2017, John Kerry, the US secretary of state, has said.
The US will accept 85,000 refugees from around the world next year, up from 70,000, Kerry said at a news conference on Sunday with Frank-Walter Steinmeier, the German foreign minister, after they discussed the mass migration of Syrian refugees fleeing the civil war.
Many, though not all, of the additional refugees would be Syrian, American officials have said. Others would come from strife-torn areas of Africa.
The White House had previously announced it intended to take in another 10,000 Syrian refugees over the next year.
Kerry did not say how many of the additional refugees would be from Syria but said that the US was ready to help.
“In consultation with Congress, we will continue to explore ways to increase those figures while maintaining robust security,” Kerry told a news conference after meeting Steinmeier.
“The need is enormous, but we are determined to answer the call.”
The announcement came amid warnings by US Republicans that the administration could open the door to potential “terrorists”.
Congressman Bob Goodlatte and Senator Chuck Grassley, Republicans who head the judiciary committees in the US Senate and House of Representatives, said in a statement the proposal lacked “a concrete and foolproof plan to ensure that terrorists won’t be able to enter the country”.
Kerry also announced he will hold talks on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York this week on ways to restart negotiations on a political solution to end Syria’s war.
“We have agreed on certain formats and processes by which we should try and proceed,” he said, adding that he would meet with his Russian and Iranian counterparts Sergei Lavrov and Mohammad Javad Zarif to discuss the situation in Syria.
“This will be a very timely meeting in New York and will give us tremendous opportunity to be able to work together and find some ways forward.”
The announcement also comes ahead of a September 23 emergency summit meeting of European Union leaders to address the refugee crisis.
– Reuters and AP