U.S. could consider resettling thousands of Syrian refugees

June 10, 2013 at 8:02 AM
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WASHINGTON, June 10 (UPI) -- Washington could consider the idea of resettling thousands of Syrian refugees if the United Nations requests it, a State Department official said.

The United States could be a destination for some of the 1.6 million people trying to flee Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime and the deadly civil war that has plagued the country for two years, the Los Angeles Times reported Sunday.

An official from the State Department, whose name was not reported, said the government would consider the idea if the U.N. Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees requests it, which would be the normal procedure.

"It was probably inevitable that in this crisis, with these overwhelming numbers, governments would start moving in this direction," said Lavinia Limon, chief executive officer of the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, a Virginia-based advocacy and service group. "But there will be resistance."

The vetting process for selecting Syrian refugees to move to the United States could take more than a year, the Times reported.

With Islamic militants taking a prominent role in the civil war, U.S. officials worry those with al-Qaida ties could try to enter the country, the newspaper said.

Countries bordering Syria have taken the bulk of those fleeing the fighting. Jordan and Lebanon each have 500,000 refugees and Turkey has more than 375,000, the U.N. refugee agency said. The agency predicts the total number of Syrian refugees could reach 3.2 million by the end of the year.

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