President Barack Obama urged world leaders Tuesday to double the number of refugees they take in next year to 360,000. He called the 65 million displaced people across the globe "a crisis of epic proportions" during a summit on refugees at the United Nations General Assembly in New York.
Obama said world leaders must accept refugees without religious exemptions. His speech comes as Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump renewed his call for a ban on Muslim immigrants after terror attacks over the weekend in New York, New Jersey and Minnesota caused mostly minor injuries.
The refugee crisis is expected to dominate discussions between world leaders this week at the United Nations gathering. A five-year civil war in Syria has helped spawn the biggest refugee and migration crisis since World War II. About 11 million Syrians have become refugees because of the conflict between the Bashar al-Assad regime and anti-government rebels, including the Islamic State group.
British Prime Minister Theresa May called on world leaders Tuesday to create "a truly global response" to displaced people across the world, while French President Francois Hollande called the Syrian war "a stain for the international community"
"To accept that there is a city ... where the population is starving, with humanitarian convoys attacked, with chemical weapons used and with children who become victims every day — it's the responsibility of the entire world," he told reporters at the United Nations General Assembly.
The global refugee population grew by 5.8 million people in 2016 in part because of conflicts in the Middle East and Africa. About half of all refugees are under the age of 18. More than 27 million refugees are so-called “internally displaced people” who live within their homelands. After Syria, Afghanistan, Somalia and South Sudan are the largest sources of refugees.
Volunteering or donating money can help mitigate the crisis. Well-regarded organizations that have been heralded for helping refugees around the world include:
-The International Rescue Committee, which is helping to organize reception centers on the Greek island of Lesbos, where many Syrians seeking refuge in Europe arrive by sea.
- Oxfam America, which seeks to help Syrians remain at home with clean water, sanitation and medical services.
- Doctors Without Borders, which operates medical facilities in Syria and help refugees in neighboring countries including Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq.
- Save the Children, which provides education, emergency aid and health care to young people inside Syria and in neighboring countries.
- The United Nations Refugee Agency, which provides sleeping bags, clothes and footwear to refugees.
- Mercy Corps, which gives refugees sanitation services, temporary shelter and food.