NEW YORK -- The United States has “scaled up” next year’s expected intake of Syrian refugees to 10,000 in response to pressure from European leaders. This figure is an increase from the 5,000 to 7,000 Washington had previously promised to resettle from Assad’s beleaguered state.
Speaking on Thursday, Press Secretary Josh Earnest answered questions about the US response to a crisis that has seen millions of refugees move to countries neighbouring Syria, and hundreds of thousands cross into Europe.
Obama meets with veterans to discuss the Iran nuclear deal on September 10, 2015 in the Roosevelt Room of the White House
“The president has directed his team to further consider how we can scale up this response,” he said. “One thing the United States can do is begin to admit more Syrian refugees into the United States.”
“We know that it’s certainly not feasible for millions of Syrians to come to this country. But what we can do is make sure that we are doing everything we can to try to provide for their basic needs,” Earnest added.
On Wednesday, Secretary of State John Kerry said the US was committed to increasing the number of refugees it accepts from Syria, but did not give a specific number. “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,” a statement read.
Reports followed from congressional staff speaking off the record that an annual ceiling limit of 100,000 was discussed during a meeting with members of the House Appropriations Committees.
David Miliband, the former British foreign secretary, who currently leads the International Rescue Committee in New York, has called on the US to take 65,000 Syrian refugees by the end of next year.
Four million refugees have fled the fighting in Syria since 2011; the United States has taken only 1,500 resettlements since the war started. The country has an annual intake limit of 70,000 refugees from 70 states around the world.
The United Kingdom has taken only 7,000 registered refugees so far, with London promising to take up to 20,000 over the next five years. In contrast, Sweden has taken nearly 65,000, Germany around 100,000 and Egypt 130,000, while Lebanon has seen an influx of 1.1 million and Turkey nearly 2 million.