U.S. Slow To Allow Syrian Refugees To Emmigrate

Four years into the conflict in Syria, relief agencies working with refugees are starting to shift their focus to permanent resettlement. But not many countries — the U.S. included — are welcoming Syrian refugees with open arms.

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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm David Greene.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

And I'm Steve Inskeep. As listeners to this program know, the Syrian civil war has created a vast refugee crisis. More than two million people have fled the country. Many have fled their homes inside that country. People are overwhelming the countries around Syria where they often live in crowded makeshift camps or fan out among the population.

GREENE: But most Western countries have been unwilling, so far, to help out by opening their doors. The United States, for one, has provided more than a billion dollars of aide for refugees in the Middle East but has allowed very few to actually come here. And that's drawn criticism from abroad and in Washington. At a hearing this week, Democratic senator Dick Durbin called attention to just how few Syrian refugees have been allowed into this country.

(SOUNDBITE OF HEARING)

SENATOR DICK DURBIN: For decades, the United States has received more refugees than any other country in the world and the American people have greeted these refugees with open arms and hearts. But the United States only accepted 31 Syrian refugees in the last fiscal year and the administration has said we are likely to accept a few hundred this fiscal year.

GREENE: That's Senator Dick Durbin speaking on Capitol Hill on Tuesday.

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