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US senators push to admit more Syrian refugees
ByREUTERS
January 8, 2014 01:52



WASHINGTON- Democratic and Republican US senators called on Tuesday for the country to take in more of the millions of people forced from their homes during Syria's nearly three-year civil war.




Only 31 Syrian refugees - out of an estimated 2.3 million - were allowed into the United States in the fiscal year that ended in October.




At a Senate hearing a week before an international donors conference in Kuwait, US officials and senators discussed the crisis in Syria, and the burden of housing hundreds of thousands of refugees for neighboring countries such as Jordan and Lebanon.




"This is the world's worst ongoing humanitarian crisis and the worst refugee crisis since the Rwandan genocide in 1994, and perhaps since World War Two," said Illinois Senator Richard Durbin, chairman of the Senate subcommittee on human rights, who said the United States has a "moral obligation" to assist.




So far, 135,000 Syrians have applied for asylum in the United States. But strict restrictions on immigration, many instituted to prevent terrorists from entering the country, have kept almost all of them out.




Washington has provided $1.3 billion in humanitarian assistance to aid Syrian refugees.




The United Nations is also trying to relocate this year 30,000 displaced Syrians it considers especially vulnerable.




Witnesses testified that Washington would normally accept half, but they do not expect significant numbers to be admitted this year despite the extent of the crisis.


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