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US, Germany Deal with the Wave of Syrian Refugees

Migrants and refugees waiting for buses after crossing the border between Hungary and Austria in Nickelsdorf, Austria 70 kilometers (43 miles) southeast of Vienna, Sunday, Sept. 13, 2015. (AP Photo/Ronald Zak)

Migrants and refugees waiting for buses after crossing the border between Hungary and Austria in Nickelsdorf, Austria 70 kilometers (43 miles) southeast of Vienna, Sunday, Sept. 13, 2015. (AP Photo/Ronald Zak)

The global migration crisis has put pressure on Europe and other countries to deal with huge numbers of refugees safely and fairly.

On Sunday, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said the U.S. will increase the number of refugees it would accept for resettlement. At least 85,000 refugees would be accepted from October 1 of this year to September 30, 2016. The number includes a minimum of 10,000 Syrians.

Secretary Kerry spoke in Berlin while meeting with the German Foreign Minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier. He said the United States will increase the number of refugees it resettles over the next two years. He said the number accepted will increase by 30,000, to 100,000 in 2017. Mr. Kerry noted that security concerns have slowed down the process.

"One of the reasons it’s difficult is that, post-9/11, we have new laws and new requirements with respect to security background checks and vetting, so it takes longer than one would like, and we cannot cut corners with respect to those security requirements.”

However, Mr. Kerry said the humanitarian effort would continue and seek support from the government and the public.

“But, this step that I am announcing today, I believe, is in keeping with the best tradition of America as a land of second chances and a beacon of hope, and it will be accompanied by additional financial contributions to the humanitarian effort not only from our government, but from the American people. And, that will become more specific in the next days."

Last week, more than 20 former U.S. officials urged President Barak Obama to accept 100,000 Syrian refugees in 2016. They pointed to past efforts that aided tens of thousands of Cuban and Vietnamese refugees to enter the U.S.

Mr. Kerry said Congress has not made enough money available to hire the people necessary to process so many additional people.

While in Berlin, Mr. Kerry added that both he and German Foreign Minister Steinmeier had determined to attack the root cause of the crisis. He repeated that he thinks there is no military solution to the conflict in Syria. And Mr. Kerry said he and his counterpart were in agreement that military support, given to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, from Russia and other countries will draw more extremists into the conflict.

Many asylum seekers want to settle in German

The migration crisis has put much pressure on Germany. It has offered to take more Syrian refugees than any other country. About 1,800 refugees are entering Germany each day from the Austrian border. Last Sunday, though, that border became more restricted.

Hundreds of foreigners have been arriving at the main train station in Munich. Local officials say they are pleased with the aid they are giving the refugees.

Christoph Hillenbrand is head of the government in Upper Bavaria.

“During 14 days we’ve got about 70,000 refugees coming and arriving here in Munich. To give them shelter within hours, to give them medical care, it’s an extreme task, and I think we did it quite well.”

But as Germany becomes more multicultural, some Germans say they are concerned about the new visitors. They worry about unemployment, and that the new-arrivals do not speak German. Some politicians say national guilt is driving the country’s current acceptance of so many refugees. They say Germany is seeking to make amends for its part in World War II.

However, not all of Europe wants to or is able to welcome refugees in the same way. Chancellor Angela Merkel has called on other European Union countries to do their share to accept the refugees and migrants.

European leaders are to meet Wednesday in Brussels to discuss how to deal with the migration crisis. EU President Donald Tusk also is calling on EU leaders to increase donations to the World Food Program to support the 11 million people in Syria and the region.

I’m Mario Ritter.

VOA correspondents Victor Beattie and Luis Ramirez reported on this story. Mario Ritter adapted their reports for VOA Learning English. George Grow was the editor.


Words in This Story

minimum – n. the lowest number that is possible or allowed

vetting – adj. related to a careful, often critical examination of someone or something

contributions – n. something that is given to help people or a cause

multicultural – adj. relating to or including many different cultures

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