Obama agrees to a tiny increase in the number of Syrian refugees the US will accept

A drop in the ocean of needs.
A drop in the ocean of needs.
Image: Reuters/Yannis Behrakis
We may earn a commission from links on this page.

The United States is preparing to accept “at least” 10,000 Syrian refugees in 2016, the White House said today (Sept. 10). That’s only a slight increase from the number the US government had floated in August, when the State Department spoke of accepting 5,000 to 8,000 people from the civil war-torn country.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest spoke of a “significant scaling up” of the US effort to help Syrian refugees—which is true compared to the minuscule number of Syrians the US had taken in so far. In 2013, which is the last year for which data is available, the US admitted 36 Syrian refugees, and granted asylum to 811 Syrian nationals. Over the course of the 4.5 year war, it resettled a mere 1,434. More than 4 million Syrians have fled the country since the war began.

Earnest added that the US would have to “look into” increasing the global cap of refugees it is willing to accept in 2016, which is currently set at 70,000.

But the 10,000 number also pales in comparison to European countries, which have agreed to take in far more people—Germany says it has the capacity to handle 500,000 a year—who are fleeing a war that has no end in sight.