US Apathy Greeted with Criticism

Since the beginning of the Syrian civil war, the U.S. has welcomed as few as 1,500 Syrian refugees. Obama, it seems, prefers to prioritize the terrorist threat.

The Syrian civil war has produced a total of over 4 million Syrian refugees. The U.S., however, has taken in a mere 1,500 of them, letting the brunt of the crisis fall to smaller, poorer countries such as Turkey (1.9 million refugees) and Lebanon (1.1 million). Canada isn’t doing any better, having received as few as 1,074 refugees since the civil war began. Such levels of apathy have, for a long time, gone unnoticed. Yet, recent photos depicting a young boy washed up on a beach in Turkey mean this is no longer the case. It can be presumed that the family of the toddler was trying to reach Canada.

In the U.S., many people are eager to see Washington turn its back on the humanitarian crisis. But not everyone is of the same opinion. According to Michael Ignatieff, professor at the Harvard Kennedy School, “the refugee crisis isn’t a European problem.” Ignatieff suggests that the U.S. and Canada should receive a minimum of 25,000 Syrian refugees. “The United States and its allies have a responsibility to the Syrian refugees … since they are arming Syrian rebels and fighting Islamic State in the country,” he claimed.

A group of Democrat senators have put pen to paper in an attempt to urge Obama to allow half the refugees currently registered by the United Nations to resettle in the United States. The Syrian conflict represents “the world’s worst ongoing humanitarian crisis and worst refugee crisis since World War II.”

Silence in the White House

Europe has also expressed criticism. David Miliband, former British secretary of state for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, and current president and CEO of the International Rescue Committee, has called on the U.S. government to resettle a minimum of 65,000 refugees and to prove “the leadership qualities previously demonstrated in this type of crisis.”* And yet, it appears nothing is able to lure the White House from its state of inactivity. Spokesperson for the Department of State, John Kirby, attempted to calm tensions with the promise that an additional 1,500 refugees would be allowed to resettle before the end of the year. According to recent claims, the ministry estimates this figure could rise to 8,000 next year. Nevertheless, U.S. efforts remain noticeably inferior to those of European countries. Perhaps most significantly, Germany anticipates some 800,000 asylum seekers this year alone. Washington, however, is prioritizing the terrorist threat. The government fears that a more liberal refugee policy could involuntarily allow an increased number of jihadis to enter the United States. “Our first priority is to protect the national security of the United States,” claimed a government spokesperson last week.

*Editor’s Note: The original quotation, accurately translated, could not be verified.

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