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Obama draws pledges from 50 countries to take in 360,000 refugees

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Fifty countries have pledged to take in 360,000 refugees this year, doubling the number from last year, US President Barack Obama announced on Tuesday.

[UNITED NATIONS, United States] Fifty countries have pledged to take in 360,000 refugees this year, doubling the number from last year, US President Barack Obama announced on Tuesday.

Opening a summit on refugees at the United Nations, he praised Germany and Canada among other countries that have opened up their doors to those fleeing the war in Syria and other conflicts.

"We are facing a crisis of epic proportion," Mr Obama said.

"We cannot avert our eyes or turn our backs. To slam the door in the face of these families would betray our deepest values."

A record-breaking 65 million people are on the move worldwide, including 21 million refugees competing for too few resettlement opportunities.

Now in its sixth year, the war in Syria has displaced nine million people while more than four million have fled to neighboring countries.

"Collectively, our nations are roughly doubling the number of refugees that we admit to our countries to more than 360,000 this year," Mr Obama announced.

Countries also boosted financial contributions to UN appeals and international humanitarian organisations by about US$4.5 billion over 2015 levels.

The pledges included funds for ensuring access to schools for a million refugee children and enabling one million refugees to work legally.

The Obama administration itself has said it will raise the number of refugees entering the United States to 110,000 next year, up from 85,000 this year.

AFP