Critics push US to do more for refugees

International community pressures US to do more for refugees as leader of humanitarian aid

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

The United States came under pressure to help Europe cope with the refugee influx that it has recently been faced with, as Head of the International Rescue Committee (IRC) and former British Foreign Secretary David Miliband said that the US, as a leader, needs to bring out “the kind of leadership America has shown on these kind of issues,” as it has in the past.  

Miliband told ABC on Sunday that "The United States has always been a leader in refugee resettlement but 1,500 people over four years is such a miniscule contribution to tackling the human side of this problem."

In an interview with Reuters, the US State of Department Spokesman John Kirby has shown no indication that the US would increase the number of refugees allowed into the country.

He also said that the US has contributed $4 billion to refugee relief, mostly in the Europe.

Kirby said that the Obama administration had been in contact with European allies, but added security concerns for low number of refugees taken in saying, "there is a significant vetting process here for folks from Syria that we have to follow."

According to Reuters an unidentified US official said that  Washington will possibly face an image problem in the international arena due to admitting just a small number of refugees compared with European countries on the refugee influx.

Food is distributed to migrants as they wait for trains at the railway station in Hegyeshalom, Hungary, September 7, 2015

Meanwhile the IRC teams provide health care, infrastructure, learning and economic support to people in 40 countries. Last week it was reported that the US committed to take in up to 8,000 Syrian refugees which 270 of them are resettled by the IRC. In almost five years of war, only 1,541 Syrian refugees have been able to resettled in the US.

The United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees Spokeswoman Melissa Fleming said that the UN Refugee Agency submitted almost 16,300 refugees for resettlement in the US and would continue submitting cases for consideration.

Last year UNHCR called on the international community to resettle 130,000 Syrian refugees before the end of 2016 and now it's calling on the US to take half of them, as a leader in humanitarian response.

Most European countries raised their refugee admission numbers, mostly from war-torn countries.

Last week German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Spokesman Steffen Seibert said in a press conference on Friday that both Merkel and French President Francois Hollande wrote a letter to the European Union (EU) leaders to press for a "sustainable and binding" mechanism for resettling refugees across member states.

A record of 104,460 refugees entered Germany in August, and the country expects 800,000 refugees this year.

Norway’s previous prediction was about 11,000, but last week they estimated 16,000 for 2015 according to the Norwegian Directorate of Immigration, adding 2,313 people had arrived in August.

TRTWorld and agencies