WASHINGTON – Earlier today, the Obama administration announced that they plan to resettle 10,000 Syrian refugees in 2016. While some have lauded this as a meaningful increase, in fact it is not. In the face of today’s global refugee crisis, with over 60 million people displaced including 11 million Syrians, Church World Service (CWS) believes that this announcement is a gross underreaction. CWS and partners are urging the Administration to show real leadership by resettling at least 100,000 Syrian refugees this coming year, in addition to 100,000 refugees from all over the world.
“President Obama must have forgotten to add a zero at the end of this number, as he should be committing the United States to resettle 100,000 Syrians refugees, not this meager figure of 10,000,” said the Rev. John L. McCullough, CWS President and CEO. “The heartbreaking images coming from Europe, Turkey, Syria and neighboring countries clearly show the desperate need for leadership from the global community to welcome those displaced by violence and conflict. We can and must do better.”
As countries around the world scramble to provide resources and asylum to Syrian refugees, CWS has pushed the United States to accept 200,000 refugees, including at least 100,000 Syrians. The U.S. government had previously signalled a willingness to resettle 6,000 to 8,000 Syrian refugees in 2016, making this recent announcement mild in terms of the U.S. response to the crisis.
“The world is facing the largest refugee crisis since World War II. Our allies in the international community have committed to accepting hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees, with Germany alone accepting 35,000 Syrian refugees through humanitarian admissions and individual sponsorships, as well as 800,000 Syrian asylum seekers,” stated Erol Kekic, Executive Director of the CWS Immigration and Refugee Program. “In proportion to each country’s population, this would be akin to the United States accepting more than three million Syrian refugees. For the United States to accept only 10,000 Syrian refugees is an almost meaningless drop in the bucket. Now is the time for the United States and the administration to act by meaningfully increasing overall resettlement numbers to 200,000 refugees, including 100,000 Syrians in order to show true leadership in the global community.”
“President Obama should follow in the steps of Presidents Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter, who showed moral leadership after the fall of Saigon. In response to public outcry about individuals losing their lives as they fled for safety, the U.S. airlifted more than 200,000 refugees in 1980 alone and welcomed a total of 759,482 Vietnamese refugees,” said Rev. McCullough. “These individuals are now our friends, neighbors, family and community members. History shows that where there’s a will, there’s a way. We now demand real leadership from this administration.”
Since 1946, Church World Service has supported refugees and others displaced individuals, in addition to providing sustainable relief and development solutions to communities that wrestle with hunger and poverty.