US & Canada

US plans to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees next year

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Media captionSyrian refugee in America: "We are here because of war"

President Barack Obama has called for the US to prepare to accept "at least" 10,000 Syrian refugees next year, according to a White House spokesman.

That number is significantly higher than the 1,500 Syrians that have been permitted to re-settle in the US since the start of the conflict.

The 10,000 figure is still much lower than the 340,000 asylum seekers who arrived in Europe this year.

Since the beginning of the conflict the US has given $4bn ($2.6bn) in aid.

The increase in accepting refugees displays a "significant scaling up" of US commitment to accept people from conflict zones and help provide for their needs," White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said.

US Congress would have to to make a "significant financial commitment" in order to allow for additional 10,000 refugees to the US, Mr Earnest said.

Germany Chancellor Angela Merkel has said her country is prepared to accept 800,00 Syrians, having accepted about 450,000 so far.

Prime Minister David Cameron has said that the UK will accept 20,000 Syrian refugees.

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Image caption The White House said it was significantly "scaling up" its efforts to resettle Syria refugees

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has registered four million Syrians as refugees, and it has asked governments around the world to resettle 130,000 Syrian refugees by the end of 2016.

In May, 14 US Senators penned a letter to President Barack Obama asking him to allow 65,000 Syrian refugees to settle inside the US.

Humanitarian aid money remains the most effective way to fight the problem for the US, Mr Earnest said, and it is "not feasible" for millions of Syrians to come to the country.

"We know the scale of this problem, it's significant," he said.

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has called for an "emergency global gathering" at the UN General Assembly meeting this month, where the migrant issue is sure to be discussed.

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Media captionAccept more Syrian refugees, US senator says

Asked at a press briefing why the US was not accepting as many refugees as the UK, as a larger country, Mr Earnest said the US wants to meet the "most urgent, immediate needs" of migrants like basic medical care, food, water and shelter.

The security screening migrants must go through when arriving in the US can take 12 to 18 months, and the "safety and security of the US homeland" comes first, he said.

There have been concerns expressed that terrorists could exploit the refugee system to enter the country and carry out an attack, but experts say that fear is overblown.

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