President Obama will host a major summit at next year's United Nation's General Assembly to press countries to do more to help more than 60 million refugees displaced by war and other crises, his U.N. ambassador said on Monday.
The announcement follows a year in which more than 1 million people have surged across the Mediterranean searching for safety and a better life in Europe. It also comes at a time when Obama's plans to take in some 10,000 Syrians fleeing civil war has provoked a political firestorm in the United States with all of the top Republican presidential candidates saying the threat posed by the Islamic State in Syria has made accepting refugees from that country too dangerous.
Next year's refugee summit will focus on the need to aid those fleeing the chaos in Syria as well as those trying to escape conflict and discrimination in Asia, Africa and South America, U.N. Ambassador Samantha Power said.
"The list of refugees in need unfortunately continues to grow – at the same time the international community has been utterly unable to keep up," Power said at the United Nations. "This year has shown with painful clarity that our existing systems, approaches, and funding are inadequate to the task at hand and to the amount of human suffering that is ongoing."
Prior to the planned summit, scheduled for September, the United States and its partners will press countries through the United Nations to do more to assist refugees by pledging aid and more opportunities for resettlement. "Every session we have in the chamber we are told that the U.N. appeal is filled usually at under 50 percent," Power said.
The United States has been the largest donor, providing $4.5 billion in humanitarian support to aid Syrian refugees, but it has taken in far fewer refugees than its European allies.