US humanitarian response to the Syrian refugee crisis

01-12-2015

In recent months, the European Union has faced an unprecedented exodus of asylum-seekers and other migrants, arriving from Syria in particular. The current humanitarian emergency is the result of a conflict-embroiled country and ongoing horrific human rights violations, resulting in one of the worst humanitarian crisis of modern times. More than 7.6 million Syrians have been internally displaced since the beginning of the conflict in 2011; approximatively 12.2 million are in need of humanitarian assistance and more than 4 million are refugees in neighbouring countries and Europe. Given its geographic proximity, the EU is severely affected by the Syrian humanitarian crisis; however the EU is not alone in supporting the Syrian population in need of international protection. Syria’s neighbouring countries and the United States remain committed to assisting the Syrian population, inside and outside Syria. In the US, to address the most urgent humanitarian aspects, the Obama administration has proposed to admit an increasing number of Syrian refugees in 2016 and beyond. This announcement has generated political debate. Some argue that the quotas announced still fall short of the global demand for resettlement of people escaping systemic violence in Syria, and call for a higher intake of Syrian refugees; while others claim that the refugee flow from Syria should be treated as a serious national security risk. In fact, any plan to bring in additional Syrians should be accompanied by a concrete and fool-proof plan to ensure that terrorists will not be able to enter the US. Currently the political dilemma in the United States appears to be how to identify ways to help the affected population, while ensuring the security and safety of the US. And in the wake of the 13 November Paris attacks, that debate has become much sharper, with many arguing against admitting any Syrian refugees to the country.

In recent months, the European Union has faced an unprecedented exodus of asylum-seekers and other migrants, arriving from Syria in particular. The current humanitarian emergency is the result of a conflict-embroiled country and ongoing horrific human rights violations, resulting in one of the worst humanitarian crisis of modern times. More than 7.6 million Syrians have been internally displaced since the beginning of the conflict in 2011; approximatively 12.2 million are in need of humanitarian assistance and more than 4 million are refugees in neighbouring countries and Europe. Given its geographic proximity, the EU is severely affected by the Syrian humanitarian crisis; however the EU is not alone in supporting the Syrian population in need of international protection. Syria’s neighbouring countries and the United States remain committed to assisting the Syrian population, inside and outside Syria. In the US, to address the most urgent humanitarian aspects, the Obama administration has proposed to admit an increasing number of Syrian refugees in 2016 and beyond. This announcement has generated political debate. Some argue that the quotas announced still fall short of the global demand for resettlement of people escaping systemic violence in Syria, and call for a higher intake of Syrian refugees; while others claim that the refugee flow from Syria should be treated as a serious national security risk. In fact, any plan to bring in additional Syrians should be accompanied by a concrete and fool-proof plan to ensure that terrorists will not be able to enter the US. Currently the political dilemma in the United States appears to be how to identify ways to help the affected population, while ensuring the security and safety of the US. And in the wake of the 13 November Paris attacks, that debate has become much sharper, with many arguing against admitting any Syrian refugees to the country.