U.S. dollars boost response to refugee crisis in Syria

When desperate refugees flee Syria’s civil war, Daesh’s deadly grip on parts of Iraq, or the latest upheavals in South Sudan, they are provided with food and shelter under the banner of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

The largest share of funding from a single country to support these refugees comes from the United States. Through U.N. and other humanitarian organizations, the U.S. has provided nearly $5.6 billion in assistance for Syrian refugees alone since the start of the crisis, when millions began fleeing to Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and elsewhere. The money also helps support displaced people within Syria.

Pie chart showing how U.S. spent $5.6 billion to help Syrian refugees (State Dept./S. Gemeny Wilkinson)
(State Dept./S. Gemeny Wilkinson)

The U.S. contributions take many forms: food vouchers and parcels, flour for bakeries, and funding for sanitation projects, shelters and medical care. The assistance is delivered through many channels.

At the same time it has contributed money to help Syrian refugees in faraway places, the U.S. has opened its doors wider for refugees from other conflict zones whose lives would be in jeopardy if they returned home.

Bar graph showing U.S. humanitarian support to Syrians by country (State Dept./S. Gemeny Wilkinson)
(State Dept./S. Gemeny Wilkinson)

The United States has admitted and resettled 3.2 million refugees since 1975, more than all other countries combined. When refugees arrive in the U.S., they receive assistance to start a new life. They can work immediately and gain citizenship in five years. In the past they have included Vietnamese, Cubans, Congolese, Afghans, Iraqis and Sudanese, among many other nationalities.

The U.N. estimates that there are 21 million refugees in the world.

President Obama, who raised the U.S. ceiling on refugee admissions from 70,000 to 85,000 for 2016, is hosting a Leaders’ Summit on the Global Refugee Crisis in New York on September 20 to encourage nations to give more humanitarian aid and admit more refugees. The president has called for boosting the U.S. ceiling to 100,000 in 2017.