News / USA

US Aid for Syrian Refugees Examined, Criticized by Lawmakers

FILE - Syrian refugees collect water at Al Zaatri refugee camp near the border with Syria, in the Jordanian city of Mafraq.
FILE - Syrian refugees collect water at Al Zaatri refugee camp near the border with Syria, in the Jordanian city of Mafraq.
Michael Bowman
U.S. officials say the Syrian refugee crisis is deepening and overwhelming the ability of aid providers to respond to a humanitarian disaster of horrific proportions. On Tuesday, U.S. lawmakers heard a sobering assessment from America’s top refugee and humanitarian aid officials and responded with impatient calls for more to be done.
 
Syria’s civil war has displaced more than 2 million people - half of them children - and overwhelmed the ability of its neighbors to accept refugees. The State Department’s point person for refugees, Assistant Secretary Anne Richard, bluntly summarized the situation before a Senate panel on Capitol Hill.
 
“In a sense, it is the suicide of Syria. It is such an overwhelming crisis that, even though so many lives have been saved and so many people have gotten help in the places to which they have run, it is not enough,” said Richard.
 
Also testifying was humanitarian administrator Nancy Lindborg, of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), who described an unprecedented mobilization by governments and aid groups to funnel assistance to Syria and its neighbors, including U.S. efforts totaling $1.3 billion.
 
“We know that humanitarian assistance is not the solution to this crisis, and it absolutely cannot end the bloodshed. But it is saving countless lives,” said Lindborg.
 
Democratic Senator Sheldon Whitehouse was among those who challenged the Obama administration to do more.
 
“We have been a day late and a dollar short consistently with our response to the Syrian crisis, and as a result I think there has been unnecessary human suffering,” said Whitehouse.
 
Fellow Democratic Senator Richard Durbin said the United States should take in more Syrian refugees and do so at a faster pace. When Republican Senator Ted Cruz asked if the refugee flow is destabilizing Syria’s neighbors, Anne Richard replied in the affirmative.
 
“It is having a devastating impact. It is undermining the stability of the region. It is no longer a Syria crisis, it is a regional crisis,” explained Richard.
 
Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said the humanitarian disaster would grow even more dire if countries like Jordan and Lebanon sealed their borders with Syria, and urged the officials present to draw up contingency plans for a worst-case scenario in the year to come.
 
“I am giving you an opportunity to tell us that maybe the worst is yet to come and prepare members of Congress who are sympathetic what kind of bill [funding request] you may send us. I would suggest to take this opportunity to sit down and write out what we may be facing as a nation in terms of our obligations to stabilize the region,” said Graham.
 
USAID’s Nancy Lindborg said worst-case scenarios have been envisioned - and repeatedly exceeded by the situation in and around Syria.

You May Like

African States Push to Keep Boko Haram Offline

Central African telecoms ministers working with Nigeria to block all videos posted by Boko Haram in effort to blunt Nigerian militant group's propaganda More

Falling Oil Prices, Internet-Savvy Youth Pose Challenge for Gulf Monarchies

Across the Gulf, younger generations are putting a strain on traditional politics More

Philippines Call Center Workers Face Challenges

Country has world’s largest business process outsourcing, or BPO, industry, employing some one-million workers More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More