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US ready to take in more refugees: Kerry

September 21, 2015

After meeting with German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, US Secretary of State John Kerry said the US was ready to take in more refugees. They agreed that a diplomatic push was needed to end the war in Syria.

Deutschland USA Außenminister Kerry und Steinmeier in Berlin
Image: Reuters/A. Schmidt

The Syrian conflict and the refugee exodus were the main focus of the talks between Steinmeier and his US counterpart John Kerry in Berlin on Sunday.

After their talk, Kerry said the US was increasing the number of refugees it would take in both this year and next.

"Germany has provided a remarkable example of a willingness to deal with these challenges," Kerry said.

"I'm pleased to announce today that the United States will significantly increase our numbers for refugee resettlement in the course of this next year and the year after," he said. "Last year I think we were at 70,000; we are now going to go up to 85,000. In the next fiscal year we will target 100,000."

Germany expects to receive 800,000 asylum applications this year.

Kerry and Steinmeier also discussed the situation for refugees in Jordan and Lebanon which border Syria. Steinmeier said the UN's refugee agency was faced with "significant underfunding," with the UNHCR needing an additional $1.8 billion (1.6 billion euros).

The ministers said the US and Germany would be making efforts to improve the agency's financing, both through the UN General Assembly and within the context of the G7 group.

Following his weekend visit to Jordan and Egypt, European Council President Donald Tusk, who chairs European Union summits, said the EU needed to help Syrian refugees find a better life closer to home.

'Not just a German challenge': Merkel

Speaking to trade unionists on Sunday, Chancellor Angela Merkel called on other European countries to accept joint responsibility for migrants fleeing Syria.

"Germany is willing to help. But it is not just a German challenge, but one for all of Europe," Merkel said. "Europe must act together and take on responsibility. Germany can't shoulder this task alone."

Merkel also said the priority was for refugees. She warned that Germany could not shelter people who were moving for economic reasons rather than to flee war or persecution.

"We are a big country. We are a strong country," Merkel said. "But to make out as if we alone can solve all the social problems of the world would not be realistic."

jm/cmk (Reuters, AFP)

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