The United States will open its doors to a target of 10,000 Syrian refugees this fiscal year as promised by President Barack Obama, Secretary of State John Kerry announced.
Washington has received harsh criticism from activists for taking little action to settle those fleeing the conflict, while Obama’s opponents warn their number may include terrorists.
Kerry, however, said the United States is now on its way to admit 10,000 vulnerable refugees, chosen from U.N. camps and inspected by U.S. security and intelligence agencies– such as widows, the elderly and disabled.
“It’s also representing six-fold increase over what we did the year before,” Kerry said, referring to the U.S. fiscal year, which runs from October 1 to September 30.
“I’m proud to say that the United States is by far the largest contributor of emergency aid, but we all recognize that still more needs to be done,” he said.
Kerry made the remarks at a dinner in Washington to mark the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr, shortly before he was due to set off on a tour of European capitals.
Kerry will meet Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow on Thursday to discuss the Syria and Ukraine crises, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Wednesday.
“The issues (to be discussed) are fairly predictable. Syria, Ukraine and bilateral relations,” Peskov told reporters on a conference call.
Kerry will also hold talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Friday, Peskov said
Syria is in the grip of what Kerry called the worst humanitarian crisis since World War II, and more than 4.8 million people have fled the country.
Frontline states like Lebanon and Jordan have been all but overwhelmed, and the arrival of streams of unvetted migrants on Europe’s shores provoked a crisis.