Washington – Sen. Chris Murphy, fresh from a trip to the Middle East, said the United States should abandon its “coldhearted” policy toward Syria and take in at least 50,000 of the nation’s refugees.
Murphy also proposed the United States fund the World Food Programme, a United Nations agency, which has limited its food aid to millions of displaced Syrians who have fled the violence in their country.
The organization has reduced feeding Syrian refugeess in camps in Jordan and other nations.
“If the United States and the World Food Programme stops feeding refugees they will go someplace else,” Murphy said.
Accompanied by Sen. Gary Peters, D-Mich., Murphy travelled last week to Iraq, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates, and Qatar, and visited the Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan. Murphy is the highest-ranking Democrat on a Senate Foreign Relations Committee panel with jurisdiction over the Middle East.
The senator said he saw thousands of children in distress at the Zaatari camp and called for “a more robust humanitarian response” from the United States.
“And we’d better do it fast,” Murphy said.
Global outrage over images of a drowned Syrian toddler in Turkey last week, and Pope Francis' call for Catholic parishes in Europe to take in refugees, has put pressure on the United States to address the issue.
But some congressional Republicans have said allowing in Syrian refugees would constitute a pipeline for terrorists.
Nevertheless, Germany has made plans to take in 800,000 Syrian refugees this year, at a cost of about $7 billion, and has asked other European Union countries to open their borders.
Prime Minister David Cameron announced on Monday that the United Kingdom will accept up to 20,000 refugees from the refugee camps surrounding Syria.
But Murphy said the United States should accept at least 50,000 to make a difference.
He said all Syrians would be “carefully screened” before being welcomed into the United States.
But he warned the United States’ position in the world — which he said is boosted by an accord that aims to curb Iran’s nuclear program -- is at stake,
“Any legitimacy that is due to the Iran deal is going to be lost by the cold-heartedness of the United States,” Murphy said.