As the most dire refugee crisis in generations presses on, the United States will contribute an unprecedented amount of money to help deal with the surge of people fleeing their war-torn, poverty-stricken countries. On Wednesday, President Obama expanded refugee aid by $70 million through a program funded by Congress. Called the Emergency Refugee and Migration Assistance, the funds are meant to be used to help resettle refugees in the U.S.
Obama noted the "unprecedented number of refugees in need of resettlement," tapping the special fund set up by Congress for refugee emergencies, USA Today reported. It may well be the largest amount of money that Obama has authorized from the fund. In 2014, Obama approved $50 million from the fund to help tackle the refugee crisis in South Sudan.
Unlike the other determinations Obama has previously authorized, Wednesday's did not restrict the fund to any particular geographical location. That means that the money can be spent on refugees all over the world.
Along with the aid increase, Secretary of State John Kerry said on the same day that the U.S. will increase admitting refugees fleeing violence in Central America — particularly those from El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala — to "offer them a safe and legal alternative to the dangerous journey many are currently tempted to begin, making them easy prey for human smugglers who have no interest but their own profits."
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The influx of refugees from Central America has been an ongoing issue, as many flee to the U.S. for their safety and livelihoods. And, though farther away, the Syrian refugee crisis continues to make a strong case for increased aid.
Now reaching its fifth year, the Syrian Civil War has caused the world's worst humanitarian crisis. An estimated 13.5 million Syrian people are in need of humanitarian assistance and about 4.6 million Syrians are refugees, most of whom have fled to other countries in the Middle East that do not have the resources to handle such large numbers.
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