U.S. hits goal of welcoming 10,000 Syrian war refugees

Photo of refugees walking, with text reading 'The U.S. has met its 2016 Syrian refugee goal' (© AP Images/State Dept.)
(© AP Images/State Dept.)

Fulfilling a pledge by President Obama, the United States reached its goal August 29 of resettling 10,000 Syrian refugees in 2016 as the latest families landed to begin their new lives in America.

Multiple U.S. agencies worked together to reach the milestone, with a month to spare in the government’s fiscal year, while maintaining a rigorous screening process for refugees.

The president’s goal to admit 10,000 Syrian refugees is a floor, not a ceiling, so more will be welcomed before the fiscal year ends on September 30. These 10,000 are among the 85,000 refugees fleeing violence and persecution in countries around the globe who are starting life over in the United States this year.

At the White House, National Security Advisor Susan Rice extended “the warmest of welcomes to each and every one of our Syrian arrivals, as well as the many other refugees resettled this year from all over the world.” The U.S. resettles more refugees than the rest of the world combined.

Some 4.8 million Syrians have fled their country since the civil war broke out in 2011. Many are still living in refugee camps or other temporary quarters in the region, most in Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt and Iraq, where they have sought asylum. Millions more are displaced within Syria.

Noting the $5.6 billion U.S. commitment to humanitarian assistance in Syria and the region, Secretary Kerry said, “In addition to resettling some of the most vulnerable refugees, we have always focused on providing humanitarian assistance and protection to refugees in the places to which they have fled, so they can return home when the conflict ends.”

The president, who has called for admitting 100,000 refugees from all over the world in fiscal year 2017, will host a summit of world leaders on September 20 in New York in conjunction with the U.N. General Assembly to fashion a more humane and coordinated approach to helping the tens of millions of refugees and migrants adrift in the world.