MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Terrible images from the civil war in Syria are prompting United States lawmakers to discuss allowing more refugees to enter the country.
The war in Syria has created some 4 million refugees since it began in 2011. Most of the refugees have gone to neighboring countries like Jordan and Turkey.
Washington has accepted 1,500 Syrian refugees.
Minnesota lawmakers U.S. Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken have asked the president to accept some 65,000 refugees.
On Tuesday, U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison sent a letter to the president asking for more help as well.
But some Congressional republicans and the Obama administration itself is concerned the vetting process for refugees would not be thorough enough and militants from ISIS or al Qaeda might slip into the country as refugees.
The U.S. has given billions in financial aid to help Syrians.
As the debate continues in Washington D.C., a Minnesota organization to help refugees is asking individuals to donate.
Minneapolis-based American Refugee Committee (ARC) CEO Daniel Wordsworth says food is the most critical and immediate need.
“Syria is the worst humanitarian crisis of our time,” Wordsworth said.
He says people can donate to any reputable organization like his to help Syrians.
“We know there are 6 million people who need emergency food assistance today inside Syria,” he said.
Millions more have fled to neighboring countries like Jordan and Turkey in moves that have overwhelmed those economies.
“We are concerned millions of people inside Syria are on the brink and we are very concerned many of these people will be forced to flee if they don’t get help now,” Wordsworth said.
In his letter to President Barack Obama, Ellison wrote: “We don’t have to sacrifice our humanity to ensure our security.”
European countries are now accepting more refugees, with Germany bracing for a possible 800,000 over this next year.
“The devastation is more than four times that of the Haiti earthquake in terms human suffering,” Wordsworth said.
Pope Francis will visit the U.S. in a couple of weeks and will likely call on the country to provide a safe haven for more Syrian refugees.
The Pope recently called on every parish in Europe to host a family fleeing from conflict.
If you would like to help the refugees through the American Refugee Committee, click here.