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US mulling more help to stanch refugee crisis

Wednesday, September 9, 2015 - 07:26
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US President Barack Obama's administration on Tuesday said it was looking at further measures to address the Syrian refugee crisis, amid criticism the world's largest economy is not doing enough.

[WASHINGTON] US President Barack Obama's administration on Tuesday said it was looking at further measures to address the Syrian refugee crisis, amid criticism the world's largest economy is not doing enough.

"The administration is actively considering a range of approaches to contribute to the solution to this very difficult challenge," said White House spokesman Josh Earnest.

The measures could include more funding to help house and feed refugee camps in Jordan, Turkey and other countries, and admitting more refugees into the United States.

Mr Earnest said the administration is looking "to see exactly what the administration and the country can do to help our allies and partners in Europe deal with this significant and growing humanitarian situation."

Any augmented support would likely need the support of the Republican-controlled Congress, where there are deep concerns about Islamic State group militants posing as refugees.

Since fighting erupted in 2011 the UN High Commissioner for Refugees has recommended 17,000 Syrians for resettlement in the United States.

By the end of this month, it will have accepted around 1,800.

Traditionally, the United States has led the world in accepting and resettling large numbers of those fleeing persecution. But refugee advocates warn it has fallen behind on Syria.

National Security Council spokesman Peter Boogaard defended the US role, saying the United States was the single largest donor to the Syrian crisis.

"The United States has provided over US$4 billion in humanitarian assistance since the Syrian crisis began, and over US$1 billion in assistance this year," he said.

Brutal conflicts in Syria, Iraq, Libya and a host of other nations have caused a surge in people fleeing for Europe.

More than 380,000 migrants and refugees have reached Europe via the Mediterranean since the start of the year, according to UN estimates.

The deaths of hundreds, including a small Kurdish boy who washed up dead on Europe's shores, has led to calls for rich nations - particularly in Europe - to do more to legally settle those displaced by war.

AFP