World powers respond to worsening refugee crisis in Europe
More than 59 million people have been forcibly displaced since the end of 2014 due to the ongoing war in Syria, with children making up more than half of that number, according to the United Nations.
The heartbreaking scenes of refugees fleeing Syria, notably 3-year-old Aylan Kurdi, whose body washed up on a beach in Turkey after drowning along with his 5-year-old brother and mother as they tried to make their way to Greece, have shone a harsh spotlight on a problem that goes far beyond Syria.
The war in Syria, which began in 2011, is reportedly the world’s single-largest driver of displacement. In excess of four million Syrian refugees are already living in neighboring countries, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. The vast majority are living in refugee camps.
The massive influx of migrants triggered frustration, after hundreds escaped from a temporary camp on the Hungary-Serbia border on Tuesday. Police tried to contain them, but were overwhelmed by the large numbers at the Roszke camp in the far south of the country. Others are travelling to northwards of Budapest and the Austrian border.
On the Greek island of Lesbos, an estimated 20,000 refugees have swarmed the country after crossing the Mediterranean. Thousands there are reportedly sleeping on the street, amid blistering weather conditions and no access to facilities and potable water
World powers, including the United States, are taking up the charge to resettle some ten of thousands of Syrian refugees, as European countries continue to grapple with the massive surge of migrants fleeing war and instability in the Middle East and Africa.
The Obama administration said Thursday that it’s willing to assist at least 10,000 Syrian refugees in the next fiscal next year. Lawmakers from both sides in Washington have criticized the government’s response, given the country’s size and economy.
“It’s clear there’s a significant need,” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest told reporters. “[Many refugee] camps are starting to reach capacity, and that’s why you’re starting to see people … whose needs are not being met in these areas now considering traveling even further to places like Europe.”
Fourteen Democratic Senators had asked President Obama to aid at least 65,000 refugees in the coming year, NBC News reported.
Other countries, including Germany and Venezuela, have promised to take in 800,000 and 20,000 refugees, respectively, according to The New York Times. France pledged to welcome 24, 000 over two years, and Britain 20,000 over five years, the paper reported.
—NBC News’ Carlo Angerer, Bill Neely and Alastair Jamieson contributed reporting to this article.