Speaking on condition of anonymity, a congressional aide has revealed that John Kerry proposed an increase in the United States intake of refugees by 5,000 and even 30,000, reports USA Today.
The United States is among a number of countries in the international community that has faced criticism and increasing pressure from refugee charities, human rights organizations and their own populations, to make greater contributions in helping the huge numbers of people fleeing a life of horror amidst the chaos of a Syrian civil war and the barbaric atrocities committed by the group known as Islamic State.
In a statement on Wednesday, Jon Kerry publicly affirmed the United State’s Commitment to increasing the number of refugees, but stopped short of offering any specific number or detail.
“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.”
It has since emerged from congressional staff speaking off the record that a 5,000 increase and a new annual ceiling limit of 100,000 was discussed during closed-door meetings with members from the Senate and House Appropriations Committees.
Since 2013, the United States has taken less than 1,500 Syrian refugees despite the United Nations referring more than 18,000 for admission. An estimated 11.6 million people have been displaced during the upheaval.
David Miliband, former British foreign secretary who is head of the New York-based International Rescue Committee, has requested the United States accept 65,000 Syrian refugees before the end of 2016. This figure is supported by 14 Democratic senators and the Democratic presidential candidate Martin O’Malley, while Senator Lindsey Graham, the Republican of South Carolina and a presidential candidate, said on Tuesday “We should take our fair share. We are good people. I don’t think the average American has any idea what it’s like to live in the Middle East right now,” as reported by the New York Times.
The United States receives refugees from 70 countries around the world and its current limit for refugee intake is set at 70,000 each year. That restriction is up for renewal and due to end on Sept. 30, and the United States Refugee Act requires President Obama to determine the limit annually in consultation with Congress.
The United States has given more than $4 billion in humanitarian aid and assistance for refugees affected by the Syrian war since the crisis began in 2011, more than any other nation in the world.
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