Syrian refugees walk along a road in Serbia, August 24, in an increasingly desperate journey to western Europe.
(photo credit: MARKO DJURICA / REUTERS)
WASHINGTON -- Former secretary of state Hillary Rodham Clinton called on the United States to accept up to 65,000 refugees of the Syrian conflict on Sunday.
The US government has stated its intention to absorb 10,000 refugees— a comparatively low figure to pledges from its allies. The United Kingdom has stated it will accept 20,000 refugees over four years, while France will accept 24,000 and Germany over 800,000.
"We're facing the worst refugee crisis since the end of World War II, and I think the United States has to do more," Clinton, running for the Democratic nomination for president, told CBS. "I would like to see us move from what is a good start with 10,000 to 65,000 and begin immediately to put into place the mechanisms for vetting the people that we would take in."
Over half of Syria's pre-war population is now homeless, with the bulk of those Syrians internally displaced. Neighboring Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan have born the greatest burden of refugee care, taking in over 4.5 million refugees altogether.
The crisis has spread to Europe
in recent months, with tens of thousands attempting to cross the Mediterranean into Italy, across the Aegean into Greece, and through the Balkans set for northern states.
Hungary, Slovakia and Serbia have rejected European Union proposals that would require all member states accept refugee quotas. But Clinton suggested that, at the United Nations General Assembly in New York next week, all countries should be prepared to declare solid commitments.
Clinton was in favor of a more muscular policy against Bashar Assad in Syria at the beginning of the war, in 2011, when she was at the helm of the State Department. In her CBS appearance, she criticized the current US policy to train and equip moderate Syrian forces against Islamic State fighters as a demonstrable failure.
Also on Sunday, US Secretary of State John Kerry said the US would increase its annual intake of refugees worldwide from 70,000 to 100,000 in the next two years.
That number will include all peoples qualified for refugee status from conflicts around the globe. But the increase reflects current US government estimates of how many Syrians will be accepted by 2017.
The US has thus far accepted only 1,500 Syrian refugees since the war began.