Obama said every country needs to do more to help alleviate the crisis, including the United States
Obama also said the U.S. would try and eliminate some bureaucratic hurdles for refugees entering the country
President Barack Obama said Friday that the image of a lifeless toddler who washed ashore on a Turkish beach after he and his family fled Syria should prompt action from the rest of the world, including the United States.
Obama said every country needed to do more to help alleviate the crisis, and that the United States would accept at least 10,000 Syrian refugees in the next fiscal year. He also said the U.S. would try to eliminate some bureaucratic hurdles toward entering the country.
But the White House said Friday that certain mandatory steps – like security checks and vaccination requirements – could not be lifted for Syrians looking to enter the United States.
The wrenching picture of 3-year-old Aylan Kurdi, laying facedown on the sand after attempting to cross the Mediterranean with his family, has come to embody the humanitarian crisis unfolding as hundreds of thousands of Syrians flee the civil war in their country.
“Those of you that saw some of those heartbreaking images of that small boy drowned, I think anybody who’s a parent understands that that stirs all of our consciences,” Obama told military members during remarks at Ft. Meade, outside Washington.
As they’ve attempted to reach countries in Western Europe, the refugees have encountered long treks by foot and crowded trains – and, in some cases, governments unreceptive to additional migrants.
The migrant crisis, Obama said, is a product of Syria’s civil war, and will only be resolved when the country stabilizes.
But he added that the broader problem would persist for decades.
“The reason is because there are too many states that are not doing well by their people,” he said. “They are desperate and willing to take extraordinary risks” to achieve better lives.
Climate change, he said, could also trigger a rise in people driven from their homes.
During the wide-ranging town call, Obama was questioned by military members about a wide range of global issues, including recent reports that Russia is escalating its military presence in war-torn Syria.
U.S. officials have said it’s unclear what Moscow’s intentions are as it builds up its troop levels inside Syria, though Obama Friday pegged the moves to fresh anxiety from Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
“It appears now that Assad is worried enough that he is inviting Russian advisers in and Russian equipment in,” Obama said. “And that won’t change our core strategy, which is to continue to put pressure on ISIL in Iraq and Syria. But we are going to be engaging Russia to let them know that you can’t continue to double down on a strategy that’s doomed to failure.”