Obama directs US to accept 10k Syrian refugees; Others also make pledges

Refugee and Migrant Crisis

Macedonia MigrantsA woman cries as she crawls through the border police block in the southern Macedonian town of Gevgelija, Thursday, Sept. 10, 2015. Hundred of thousands migrants and refugees trying to reach the heart of Europe via Turkey, Greece, the Balkans and Hungary have faced dangers, difficulties and delays on every link of the journey. (AP Photo/Borce Popovski)

President Barack Obama has directed his administration to accept at least 10,000 Syrian refugees in the next fiscal year as European countries struggle to accommodate tens of thousands of refugees from the Middle East and Africa, White House spokesperson Josh Earnest announced Thursday.

Earlier, two officials and a congressional aide said that Secretary of State John Kerry told members of Congress in a closed-door meeting on Capitol Hill Wednesday that the United States will boost its worldwide quota for resettling refugees from 70,000 to 75,000 next year, a number that could increase further. A fraction of those would be from Syria.

Shortly after Kerry’s meeting, Republican Sen. John McCain went to the Senate floor to urge stronger leadership from President Barack Obama on stemming violence in the Middle East and North Africa. He stood next to an enlarged, close-up photo of the dead body of three-year old Aylan Kurdi, a Syrian boy who drowned along with his 5-year-old brother and mother when their small rubber boat capsized as it headed for Greece.

“This image has haunted the world,” McCain said. “But what should haunt us even more than the horror unfolding before our eyes is the thought that the United States will continue to do nothing meaningful about it.”

White House press secretary Josh Earnest said Tuesday that the Obama administration has been looking at a “range of approaches” for assisting U.S. allies with 340,000 people freshly arrived from the Middle East, Africa and Asia. Many are fleeing parts of Iraq that are under the Islamic State group’s control.

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton, Kerry’s predecessor, called for an “emergency global gathering” at the United Nations General Assembly meeting later this month, where countries could pledge aid money and to accept some of the migrants. The event would be similar to a gathering convened after the 2010 earthquake in Haiti.

The top three groups of people resettled by the U.S. are Burmese, Iraqis and Somalis. Beyond Syrians, the administration wants to increase the number of Africans coming to the United States next year, according to a senior U.S. official involved in the process.

While Germany braces for some 800,000 asylum seekers this year, the U.S. hadn’t previously said if it would increase its worldwide quota. Throughout Syria’s 4½-year civil war, the U.S. has accepted only about 1,500 Syrians — a tiny percentage of the 11.6 million people who have been chased out of the country or uprooted from their homes.

After the fall of Saigon in 1975, the U.S. accepted more than a million refugees from Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos. In more recent years the U.S. has taken in large numbers of Muslim Kosovar Albanians and refugees from Iraq.

But what those crises involved and Syria’s may lack is a sense of U.S. responsibility. Refugee operations in Southeast Asia followed years of U.S. warfare there, as did the decision to take in tens of thousands of Iraqis over the last decade. Many Americans will feel differently about taking large numbers of Syrians displaced by a war that the United States has tried hard to avoid.

In addition, U.S. intelligence officials say they are concerned that the flow of migrants into Europe has been infiltrated by Islamic State group extremists who are bent on carrying out terror attacks.

Story by the Associated Press

EU plans emergency summit for the growing refugee crisis

European Union officials will meet next week at an emergency summit to discuss a plan to accept 160,000 refugees.

Across Europe, polls show a growing sympathy for refugees seeking asylum in EU nations. The European Commission says its migrant agenda balances compassion for refugees with a tough approach for economic migrants.

CCTV’s Jack Barton filed this report from Brussels.

Germany says EU plan to accept 160,000 refugees is not enough

Meanwhile, Berlin has described the European Commission’s plans to relocate 160,000 refugees as a drop in the ocean. It’s estimated that about 37,000 refugees entered Germany in only the first eight days of this month. Tens of thousands are still arriving, mostly by train.

CCTV’s Guy Henderson filed this report.

Hungary to seal its borders from the refugee crisis

Record numbers of people streamed through the Balkans into Hungary on Thursday. Hungarian police said more than 3,300 people entered in just 24 hours. Authorities have been told to expect 40,000 more migrants and refugees by next week, though Prime Minister Viktor Orb has vowed to cut the number to zero starting on Tuesday.

CCTV’s Kate Parkinson reported this from the Hungarian border.

Hungary is erecting a fence along the Serbian border to keep refugees and migrants out. There are still open areas and people are still streaming across the border on a hurry to get to Hungary, and into the European Union, before the fence is finished and before harsh new anti-migrant laws take effect.

Australia to take in 12,000 Syrian refugees

Australia’s response to the Syrian crisis is getting mixed reviews. Aid groups welcome the news that Australia will take in thousands of refugees, but some are worried about the impact of Australia’s decision to extend air strikes into Syria.

CCTV’s Greg Navarro reports from Sydney.