The Trump administration allows about 7,000 Syrians to remain in the US for at least another 18 months but the border remains closed for many others.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees "believes that the conditions for refugees to return in safety and dignity are not yet in place in Syria." Tens of thousands of people continue to be at risk as the war in Syria continues. (Reuters)

The Trump administration said on Wednesday that it would allow nearly 7,000 Syrians to remain in the United States for another 18 months but won't let more Syrian citizens apply for the special protection programme.

The decision was a partial relief for displaced Syrians who had feared President Donald Trump might end the programme entirely, forcing those in the US to leave or face deportation. 

Yet human rights groups blasted the president for excluding more recent arrivals to the US, pointing out that Syria remains devoid of any notion of stability or normalcy.

Under a humanitarian programme known as "Temporary Protected Status," a few thousand Syrians have been allowed to stay in the US. 

The current programme is set to expire on March 31.

Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said "ongoing armed conflict and extraordinary conditions" justified giving those in the programme another year and a half to remain in the US.

"After carefully considering conditions on the ground, I have determined that it is necessary to extend," Neilsen said.

In total, the US is currently hosting around 18,000 Syrians who had fled the war since 2011. This pales in comparison to the number of Syrian refugees living in other countries. 

Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan are hosting about 3.5 million, one million and 700,000 Syrian refugees, respectively.

TRT World's Tetiana Anderson explains the impact this decision will have on Syrians.

Only those who have been in the US before August 1, 2016, are eligible for that extension, disqualifying newer arrivals. 

Still, Neilsen said those who came to the US more recently "may be eligible to seek other forms of immigration relief."

Syria remains entangled in a bloody civil war, which shows no signs of ending any time soon. 

"We made a commitment to offer safety to these people in a time of crisis," said Lia Lindsey of the aid group Oxfam. "Syria, without a doubt, continues to be unsafe and unstable."

Source: TRTWorld and agencies