Syria's war: US takes in 10,000 refugees in one year

The White House says it is working with Congress to increase the target by a few thousand for 2017.

    Refugee intake has grown from 29 in fiscal 2011 to 10,000 in fiscal 2016 [EPA]
    Refugee intake has grown from 29 in fiscal 2011 to 10,000 in fiscal 2016 [EPA]

    The Obama administration is set to meet its goal of admitting 10,000 Syrian refugees this fiscal year, a month ahead of schedule.

    The White House also said that it is working with Congress to increase the target by a few thousand for the following year.

    The government had pledged to admit at least 10,000 displaced Syrians during the current fiscal year, which wraps up at the end of September.

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    "While refugee admissions are only a small part of our broader humanitarian efforts in Syria and the region, the president understood the important message this decision would send, not just to the Syrian people but to the broader international community," Susan Rice, US national security adviser, said.

    US admission of Syrian refugees has been a hot issue in the 2016 race for the White House, with Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump warning that fighters could enter the country posing as refugees.

    Trump said that if he is elected, he would persuade Gulf states to bankroll safe zones for Syrian refugees so they would not have to be brought to the US.

    In addition, some Democrats in Congress have pressed to toughen the screening process for Syrian refugees.

    Syria's civil war has led to a flood of millions of refugees. But so far the United States has offered refuge to far fewer than many of its allies.

    Germany has taken in hundreds of thousands and Canada admitted nearly 30,000 refugees between November last year and May 1.

    The US took in 29 Syrian refugees in fiscal 2011, 31 in fiscal 2012, 36 in fiscal 2013, 105 in fiscal 2014 and 1,682 in fiscal 2015, according to the US state department.

    John Kerry, US secretary of state, will hold talks with politicians in Congress before the administration sets the figure for 2017.

    "I anticipate that in the next few weeks we will have some additional news on this," Josh Earnest, White House spokesperson, said.

    Obama would like to see a "ramping up of those efforts" but is realistic about how quickly that could happen, he said.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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