Pressure is mounting on the the United States to help Europe find sanctuary for a flood of immigrants displaced by war and chaos.
However, Washington is showing no signs it will dramatically increase in its intake of refugees.
Reuters is reporting that David Miliband, head of the International Rescue Committee and former British foreign secretary, urged the United States to bring out “the kind of leadership America has shown on this kind of issues” in the past.
“The United States has always been a leader in refugee resettlement but 1,500 people over four years is such a miniscule contribution to tackling the human side of this problem,” Miliband told ABC’s This Week With George Stephanopoulos.
In an interview with Reuters on Saturday, State Department spokesman John Kirby offered no indication the US would be greatly boosting the number of immigrants it would allow into the country.
He cited the US$4 billion US contribution to refugee relief and reconfirmed the Obama administration’s position about security concerns.
“There is a significant vetting process here for folks from Syria that we have to follow,” he said, adding that the Obama administration had been in contact with European allies and was exploring options.
US authorities want to prevent militants from Islamic State or al Qaeda from slipping into the country as refugees.
But there are risks to sticking to current policy and not playing a more active role in helping Europe.
Another US official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that given the graphic images of the refugees’ plight, Washington may face an international image problem for admitting only a small number compared to European countries.
Melissa Fleming, spokeswoman for the UN High Commissioner on Refugees, said the United States had not put a quota on the number of refugees it would accept.
She said the UNHCR had submitted almost 16,300 refugees for resettlement in the United States and would continue submitting cases for consideration.
Europe has been operating without a consensus on what do with the flood of refugees.
Austria and Germany, which expects to receive 800,000 refugees and migrants this year, have opened their borders in recent days to thousands of mostly Syrian refugees who had been stranded in Hungary.
Pope Francis on Sunday called on every Catholic parish and religious community in Europe to take in at least one refugee family.
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