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
"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
. 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.