State Department spokesman John Kirby said the United States is on track to accept about 3,000 Syrian refugees this year, but that’s not a cap and “it’s fair to say that we are going to continue to look at this and the numbers could grow.”
Germany, by comparison, is projected to top 800,000 Syrian refuges by the end of the year, including ones already admitted and new arrivals. Kirby’s estimate includes about 1,500 already admitted into the U.S. since the Syrian revolution began in 2011.
Oxfam wants America to go much higher — up to 70,000 by the end of next year.
Kirby said the 3,000 estimate could go higher, but didn’t put a number on it, vaguely noting “I think it’s possible those numbers could grow.”
“One of the things we are also doing is contributing funds to this, and we are the largest donor, and we have another $25 million to deal with this specific issue inside Europe,” he told CNN today.
“We are glad to see the EU, and you cited Germany and Ireland, is also going to take in refugees. It’s important to remember that really the long-term answer here is political stability inside Syria so the people can go home to their own country and live peaceful lives and we understand that’s a ways away but that’s at the core of the issue here.”
Kirby acknowledged “it isn’t just about the political situation in Syria.”
“Many you cited, North Africa, are escaping violent extremism and terrorism, particularly, ISIL in Iraq and Syria are causing a flow of these refugees. And that’s why it’s so important for us to have a multi- facetted approach against ISIL. Not just military strikes but using all the lines of effort to try to get rid of this group and to restore good governance in there area where they’ve been able to dominate. It’s going to take a long time. The flow of foreign fighters is a problem, particularly across the border with Turkey,” he said.
“One of the things Secretary Kerry has done at the State Department is establish a working group to deal with the refugee issue, not just in Europe, although that’s a core crux of their initial meeting recently, but also from other places around the world.”
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), who sits on the Foreign Relations Committee in addition to running for the presidential nomination, told Fox “ultimately” the crisis “will impact us as well because it destabilizes our allies.”
“In any humanitarian crisis it also creates the possibility for example, of mayhem. Look, you have — on the border with Jordan, and we have even talked about that. Millions — at least over 1 million refugees have now sought refuge within the borders of Jordan. I believe it’s now their largest — or second largest city. And it also becomes a prime target for ISIS try to infiltrate people into that camp, destabilizing yet another key ally of ours in the region,” Rubio said. “So it is the United States’ issue and it does confront us — instability whether it’s in Europe or any other part of the world, ultimately has an impact on our national security interest.”
This time last year, Oxfam was criticizing President Obama for having no plan for the Syrian humanitarian crisis.
“Since 2011, the fighting that has devastated Syria has driven nearly 10 million people from their homes. Close to 2.8 million—more than half of whom are children—have fled to neighboring countries. Syria’s people, and those who are giving them refuge, desperately need help to meet their basic needs for food, clean water, shelter, and medical care,” the aid organization noted in summer 2014. “The US has been generous with humanitarian aid for those affected by the conflict; however, the Obama Administration has not yet delivered a plan for how to address and end this crisis.”