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San Diego Group Says U.S. Needs To Do More To Help Syrian Refugees

The Syrian American Council of San Diego says the United States needs to do more to help Syrian refugees.

Under pressure to increase efforts to address the migrant crisis in Europe, the White House announced Thursday that the U.S. is planning to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees in the coming fiscal year.

The U.S. has resettled 1,000 Syrian refugees since the Syrian civil war broke out in 2011.

“The scale of the disaster in Syria is unprecedented since World War II," said Sohaib Alagha, vice president of the Syrian American Council. "So far the U.S. says its taking 1,000 refugees this year. That's 1 out of 12,000 Syrians displaced. That's a drop in the ocean."

Photo by Megan Burks

Sohaib Alagha, vice president of the Syrian American Council and a San Diego resident, sits in his office on Aug. 26, 2015.

Nine Syrian families have resettled in San Diego County this year, said Alagha. It's unknown how many more will come to San Diego.

Michael Provence teaches Middle East history at UC San Diego and said the U.S. needs to change its strategy in Middle East.

“A military solution that targets Islamic fighters against the government of Syria, a government that's been killing all these people in many cases, this is not much of a strategy at all, so we need something something better, something big, something soon,” Provence said.

About 4 million Syrian refugees have registered with the United Nations. Tens of thousands of others are fleeing from war-torn countries across the Middle East and Africa to Europe.

Provence said the United States should consider a regional summit to try to convince the Syrian government to have a united front in the region against ISIS. He also said there needs to be a regional strategy for refugee resettlement.

"But these things are very difficult, and cost a lot in political capital and courage and initiative, and that's in short supply," he said.

It’s estimated that between 10,000 and 15,000 Syrian Americans live in San Diego County.

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