50 countries to take in 360,000 refugees
US President Barack Obama urged countries to “welcome the stranger in our midst” at a summit that drew pledges from 50 countries to take in 360,000 refugees.
“We are facing a crisis of epic proportion,” said Mr Obama, speaking at a US-led refugee summit at the United Nations.
“We cannot avert our eyes or turn our backs. To slam the door in the face of these families would betray our deepest values.”
Some 50 world leaders took part in the summit – their participation conditional on making new commitments to address the world’s largest refugee crisis since World War II.
“Collectively, our nations are roughly doubling the number of refugees that we admit to our countries to more than 360,000 this year,” Mr Obama announced.
In particular, seven countries – Romania, Portugal, Spain, Czech Republic, Italy, France and Luxembourg – committed to resettle or admit at least 10 times more refugees than in 2015, according to US officials.
While the new pledges would allow more asylum seekers to rebuild their lives, it represented a fraction of the 1.1 million refugees who are in need of resettlement in 2016, according to the UN refugee agency.
Countries also boosted financial contributions to UN appeals and international humanitarian organisations by about US$4.5 billion over 2015 levels.
The pledges included funds to ensure access to schools for 1 million refugee children and enabling 1 million refugees to work legally. A record-breaking 65 million people are on the move worldwide, including 21 million refugees fleeing the war in Syria and other conflicts. –
French President Francois Hollande (centre) shakes hands with US President Barack Obama (second right) as UN General Secretary Ban Ki-Moon (right) looks on during the UN General Assembly in New York on September 20.