Human Rights First: US should commit next week to taking more Syrian refugees

Duncan Breen, Senior Associate, Refugee Protection Program at Human Rights First says at next week’s meeting of foreign ministers in Geneva that the US should make a commitment to resettle more Syrians and to make it easier for them to get around “bars to protection under U.S. immigration law” (code for reduce security screening).

Breen, center, at release of HIAS report on LGBTI refugees in May

Here is a portion of the press release at Human Rights First:

Next week in Geneva, foreign ministers will convene to discuss ways to support Syria’s neighbors as they host hundreds of thousands of refugees. The United States has contributed significant resources to help address the humanitarian crisis, far more than any other nation. This gives the U.S. delegation, led by Deputy Secretary Bill Burns, even greater standing to use this high-level meeting to:  1) advocate strongly for access to protection for Syrian refugees; 2) encourage other donors to increase their contributions to assist Syrian refugees; and 3) make a firm commitment to increase its own resettlement of Syrian refugees to the United States.


The United States has the world’s largest refugee resettlement program. But it is resettling very few refugees from Syria at present.  The United States should use the opportunity of next week’s meeting to announce a commitment to significantly increase the numbers of Syrian refugees it will accept through its resettlement program. At the U.N. General Assembly this week, Lebanese President Sleiman asked for help beyond financial assistance and stressed the need “to search for ways to share the burdens and numbers among States.” As the UNHCR steps up its efforts to identify the most vulnerable Syrian refugees for resettlement, the United States should make clear its commitment to resettling increasing numbers of Syrian refugees and take steps to proactively address potential bars to protection under U.S. immigration law.

How about we fill up that UN camp at Al-Azraq first!

Photo is from this panel discussion.

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