tv Key Capitol Hill Hearings CSPAN January 7, 2014 10:00pm-12:01am EST
.. is -- they are polling, they had to pull troops out of other peacekeeping missions for central african republic, now they have to pull troops from other peacekeeping missions to do with a problem in south sudan, moving from 7000 up to 12,000 peacekeepers. simply, we don't have a good mechanism and we also don't have a good mechanism for ensuring that those troops are the right troops, trained, capable, not from the neighboring states of their own interest as we see in central african republic, chad. so that's a question there. the other is, and this is my system hase, the internatio >> the international system has failed to recognize the need to have effective law enforcement support both for the conflict and in a post-conflict time. we simply don't have it and that
does not work. and finally i would say that the regional organization, the au, it is better and they still haven't quite developed that capability. and we either need to recognize that or understand that you're going to have to have the u.n. in a far more capable way, whether this means a standing capability, it have to be done. finally, the one good piece of news is twofold. and i think that the atrocities prevention board that the administration has started has actually resulted in a far more expensive response over the course of the last month of a half. and the u.n. has now developed something called the right way forward.
and this includes staffing and resources as well. >> very quickly, i agree with david, i think there is an institutional deficit in key areas with really important issues. and i agree with marcus also. there is a capacities deficit in many areas as well and i think that there is some positive news and there is an ad hoc coalition to actually result in resolve the crisis is. we saw that with getting the interim deal in play and we saw this over some extent the chemical weapons issue in syria and the cooperation between the u.s. and russia and the u.n. in removing the chemical weapons on
this and now with south sudan and others. and we are still seeing some of that. .. parrot the gap between what we need to get effective multilateral cooperation and what we are doing to get effective multilateral cooperation, ineffective is an inappropriate adjective. do you have a question? >> very short. >> thank you very much, jim shearer, many thanks for the mapping of the terrain for our panel. david, a quick follow-up, on the
theme of diverging economies are concrete cases to involvement in emerging economies and the global value chain as a mitigating factor overall? i ask the question because the economist, this picks up on the theme of the anniversaries, 100 years from the anniversary of the first world war and the economist published a piece saying we ought to be a little more angst written about legacy conflict. john mccain -- and there was too much emphasis on economic independence but there is the global value change. are there specific cases you could back of to and if the panel wants to comment on the economist's concern? >> i think the whole phenomenon
of supply chain integration in asia, literally tens of millions of people being lifted out of poverty, hundreds of millions of people being lifted out of poverty in china, in indonesia, in india, yes is the answer to that. i remember doing a piece with my colleague linda lim from the university of michigan on wages in southeast asia and so-called race to the bottom hypophysis. empirically we are in exactly 180 degrees different world. it is not race to the bottom in wages at all in china, very similar, phenomenon. i think it is a fair question, i don't want to overstate the
point. i don't believe that economic integration is a panacea and it doesn't always work. the term i use was a mitigated ranted clearly is. in particular as i look at the middle east, part of the tragedy of what we used to call the arabs spring was you never really got full transitions that were able to put in place economic policies and programs to address these issues and it was that factors that was the major element behind the deterioration and i know this is something that is very hard to influence from the outside.
plenty of people were working on these issues, egypt, tunisia and it was a bear if conditions and political conditions in particular in the country's weren't enabling, didn't matter what the external community wanted to do or was willing to put money against. >> if you look at those countries, the bottom of human development index and match them with countries we talked about in terms of likelihood of additional conflict or three years, you find a pretty good overlap, particularly when you look at countries like the issue of income inequality has risen, there is again -- one of the most unequal countries in the word--the world of intimate disparity and the failure to do what occurred in southeast asia,
the failure to expand opportunity with respect to education, these are underlying strategic conditions that have an impact, not totally but have a significant impact on setting the stage in the future. >> one of the themes that cuts across all regions and the economic and political threat, grave concerns about unemployment. the population is over 7 billion people, desperation in immigration to europe, better resource nationalism because it will fail to produce employment, i wonder how vulnerable do you think a retreat from global trade alliances, wto, return to
resources that it -- nationalism, a wonder how big a concern you might see this unemployment and an ability to deliver jobs to you. >> my own view is you have a real challenge, a lot of the interest in the emerging markets in the last decade was driven by resources, particularly energy resources under the notion that we were in a world of sharp scarcity in energy resources. in fact, we are entering into a very different world in which scarcity of assumptions are being challenged if not replaced, and if you look at who
is vulnerable to that, it is front years and particularly those where resources nationalism continues to have a lot of salience, nigeria, a lot of these countries are actually going -- following what are likely to be self-defeating strategies, you are even seeing some of that in brazil, brazilians are more likely to cost correct that the end of the day, they understand the world, but there is a lot of vulnerability in the frontier markets, the emerging markets particularly in africa. and to understand if the world
is changing in a way that makes contact -- competition for what looks produced a much more salient issue. >> if you look at what are the factors that relate to the increase in armed groups in many of these countries, no one has effectively dealt with the issue, growing issue of youth unemployment and youth without skills and so you wind up, they are the ones recruited whether it is by the narcotics cartels or the militias in south sudan. if we don't figure out how to help countries deal with that problem and it is not just the question of macroeconomics either but targeted effort in terms of education, skills and in terms of engagement to feel
part of the society and so far we have not done a good job helping countries see that as a priority. >> to pick up on your deck about unemployment, many people were very concerned this time last year about the levels of unemployment in southern europe. in some cases the dog that didn't bark and a lot of people predicted that there would be mass demonstrations on the streets, 1968 all over again and much worse and it was that because of the changing demographic structure in europe to dampen that problem? was it government's support network, family support networks? probably those all played a role. as market implied in other parts of the world where there are not those sort of safety nets, the
threat is very real and those countries where the demographic structure or profile is not as favorable as it is in europe that is where the concern lies. >> one little plan. democracy is an interesting driver because even in moonshiner, what we have seen is that the level of growth needed to keep unemployment at what the chinese view as an acceptable level is coming down because of the combination of one child policy and the beginning of the transition away from rural to urban migration. demographics are highly varied around the world. alan. >> formerly with the department of state, anticipated my
question when he mentioned it europe, europe is not part of the global conflict tracker. given its importance to the united states, is there any development in europe? thinking primarily of southern europe but including france, maybe more in the economic and financial area but with possible spillover effect into the political arena that should be of concern to the united states. >> i think the main issue and it is a huge issue of concern to the united states is that i think europe is increasingly under fiscal pressures and in those fiscal pressures nato linked military issues invariably get short shrift that if you summarize european defense spending you have a big
number. if you look at the capabilities that that translates into because of the national orientation of all of the european countries it is a pretty small set of capabilities and the underpinnings frankly of the nato alliance as an active collaboration are becoming harder and harder to sustain. >> that is exactly right. our concern for the european union and nato as partners in helping to deal with these foreign policy challenges, that is where we see the greatest vulnerability. >> the biggest question about europe is its future role, certainly global security manager provider and even in the immediate region around europe and we have seen less appetite
among european public for any kind of activist foreign policy role with the possible exception of the french in africa but what most european countries are going to make this question what will europe will play in the future in managing many of these disputes. >> fred. >> thanks. the question i want to ask is as good as the school is and it gets better every year, is it adequate as a conflict prevention priority tool? does it flag the things that should be opportunities to prevent some of these things. it is a great fool the shows where things may go in 2014 or
could they get worse? it seems to have the orientation that is too much the case in most think tanks which is geographic. we need to understand american threats as country by country, local dynamics that produce conflicts and horrible consequences. it is not at all clear on this chart whether national interest is just about people killing each other in a mass number the location and importance of country. it turns into a plumbing exercise and loses all the architecture and that is what is going wrong in the world and american foreign policy. and not just the united nations. alliances are more regional and local situations. and one of the problems with the ed snowden thing is it completely exposed this double
standard in the united states about the interests of american citizens versus the interests of everybody else in the world. if we lose the impression that we are out there trying to advance an architecture for the world, that is in the interest of these other people, many of the realizing we are not, talk about soft power deterioration, we lose the influence to affect so many situations because people think we are just in it for our own era national interests. so somehow there needs to be an overlay that reflects the kinds of trends that lead to a tipping points that lead to deterioration that may not be in 2014 in terms of people killing each other in mass numbers but if you don't do certain things like the security sector capability much more effectively addressed, throughout large parts of the world, things
continue to slide. i love this discussion. i love this pool. it tells me where things are going to blow in 2014 but doesn't tell me what my opportunities are to make some of them less likely. >> one response? >> you make some very important points. our exercise does tend to desegregate the various crises and potential conflicts and particularly focused purely on geopolitical contingencies as the main focus and the result of that is you sometimes lose these complex interdependent sees between different contingencies, how one could trigger the other, the contagion effect through the system and it is difficult to captures that because they are inherently unpredictable and even these relatively discreet crises are difficult to define
and assess in any rigorous fashion. the large point is definitely correct. the survey should not be seen as a substitute for an assessment of one of the opportunities these conflicts present in terms of early conflict prevention or mitigation efforts and they don't provide precise guidance or strategies for dealing with many of these conflicts. our other products, preventive action tries to do that, we provide more explicit guidance how to manage these conflicts. they're very valuable expert briefs. we are trying to limit what this exercise can accomplish, we don't want to overload it with too many excursions and get into
policy prescription. >> can i make one comment? when is that is the beginning of my discussion, i talked about some of the trends the we see that cut across these individual conflicts and didn't try to say we should do x, y and z but those of the trends and including the question about youth unemployment you need to be thinking through as to what you do over the next 5 to 10 years in trying to help countries deal with them. the second is a reminder, we also have an interactive map. we produce this crisis watch every month, we have the mack, the distinction is when you go up those countries and will of the reports but it pulls out those actions, recommendations we think need to be taken with respect to those issues. >> can i make one comment as of
former policymaker, one of the most interesting observances that i had of this process, the prevention process, we were asked in the clinton administration, to look at opportunities as well, there was often a real disjuncture between where they appeared analytically to be opportunities to where there was political pressure, a push to engage, the latter tended to talk to the former so you would not necessarily get the greatest engagement in those crises that looked as if they
had the most opportunity for effective prevention. so this is a really complicated stuff and it is not all about what makes sense analytically. the politics of this is very substantial -- substantially driving these outcomes. >> that is why this atrocity prevention board is supposed to recognize that. even though this is not on the headlines it is coming down the road so you need to think about how to deal with that ahead of time but the bigger point is in this, 24 hours a day, those policymakers are dealing with what is on their plate that day and it is hard to come up with additional hours to focus on what may be on their plate three
years from now. >> it is a great conflict. georgetown university, it is agreed conflict, and we thank you all, if i put on my susan rice hat, asking the question, what are your criteria of importance here, and is a possibility we might use force which is implicit in europe in your matrix and more the issue of humanitarian cost, is that the number one criteria or is it a geopolitical impact in the macro global sense? how do we choose? because we have to choose, we need priorities and what is the matrix of how you --
>> i will go back to my starting commons. and that is what america's allies are looking for, how are we going to choose? and the president's speech this year was all about iran, israel, palestine sent a very troubling message after we had this whole buildup about transition to asia and that is the question that is out there. is there a strategy, does the second obama administration have a strategic viewpoint that is driving the behavior beyond one or two things they are focused
on? i give the administration high grades for iran, doing a good job. we will see if it works. beyond that, i think that you have this whole level of uncertainty even in the middle east where the saudis, other gulf states, the israelis are uncertain what is america's vision about its role in that region, when the vice president went to tokyo a couple weeks ago, he thought he had good meetings, the people who he was meeting with didn't think so, and that is really the backdrop to the prime minister's visit and increasing efforts in asia by asians to work out their own
increasing defense architecture as a hedge on what happens if the united states really isn't there for us. that is the question. >> i would say that our concern is focused on what is likely to produce mass loss of human life. the difference from the past is we are arguing and in the united states we are beginning to accept that the united states in terms of its own national strategic interest has to be concerned about that as well. and failure to deal with that problem of atrocities will result in damage to u.s. national interests over not only the long term, the medium term. you cannot simply ignore rolando or south sudan or central african republic. you have to react and you have to try to prevent those from getting worse and the same with
respect to see real where we have yet to find an acceptable answer. >> as you say the principal criteria that we use for ranking the relative priority of different contingencies and u.s. interests focus and to what extent do these conflicts pose a direct risk to the lives of americans to the risk of u.s. military engagement that might flow from these conflicts to us. those conflicts deserve more priority than the other ones and the hard hearted about the humanitarian, and in terms of relative priority, the ones where the interest of the united states and the livelihood of america are the ones deserving
the highest priority. >> time for one final question and you have the opportunity. >> global witness national defense university. i want to ask about the architecture of conflict and crisis that came out earlier. two or three states, a lot of the power brokers in these locations have an incentive towards predatory behavior and conflict and have the disincentive to building institutions and all those things. aside from military intervention are you seeing a push towards using new tools to d incentivize those conflicts in those fragile state that keep coming up over and over again to change in that year one through teir 3
dynamics. >> you are beginning to figure out a way and at least -- we are doing more in consulting with regional entities in terms of trying not just to do it ourselves but engage others. to back off in support of am 23 and this is not cost 40. there are consequences. would have urged them to have done that earlier. >> if you are looking at where we have enhanced statecraft and tools, i think we have been much more creative and capable on the
tools to influence states and the irony, the irony of these weak state situations is the tools. we have done enormous creativity on economic tools and that is what brought us the break through on the iran negotiations. the fact is week states our contacts in which the typical pools of statecraft don't work very well because states are so mushy and it has been very hard. i go back to the study 20 years ago, in terms of statecraft, despite the fact that we have
eventually to arrive at an answer. hung juries may be the default here in washington but they don't sell well in alaska. so i am calling for ending the prohibition on crude oild >> the current system is inefficient and may lead to supply disruptions that we cannot afford. lifting the ban we will send a strong signal to the energy market and as a nation we are serious of a country about our emerging role in the major hydrocarbon producer. now, i believe that the administration retains enough statutory authority to lift the ban on its own. the president has the authority to lift the ban and international interests, and other path is to approve an application for the export of
crude oil under a provision in the law permitting the application if it can be demonstrated that those fuels cannot reasonably be marketed here in the united states. it is a mismatch in our nation's refining capacity that has already emerged and common sense suggests that the mismatch should meet these qualifications. so if the administration is unwilling to act on its own or if that is further modification, i am prepared to introduce legislation to modernize the law. and opponents of trade will be quick to assert too often without citing evidence that this will raise prices for american consumers and this claim is wrong but must be dealt with immediately and it must be
dealt with head-on. i have said repeatedly and i firmly mean it that the goal must be to make energy more affordable. if we want to bring down gasoline prices, then we should be opening up federal lands to energy production and not closing them on. i can think of a few places in alaska that could be opened up immediately for oil production, which would help you lower gasoline prices. small but rising amounts of crude are already being exported to canada as i noted. it is permitted by statute and we have seen no crisis in gasoline prices here at home as a consequence of that. modernizing the architecture would be due to making world energy markets more efficient.
and we don't see a booming run on the crude oil site out there. and it will serve to increase domestic oil production and the entry of this onto the global market will put downward pressure on international prices. all things equal, this combination will help the american consumer. i want to be abundantly clear this morning. the status quo in my view is not beneficial to the american people and i believe the need to act causes problems in the united states oil production, which will raise prices and hurt american jobs. >> in a few moments, more than 2 million refugees for the syrian civil war. in an hour and a half, the national press club speech by the chief of staff ray odierno.
many council relations forum on global threats. >> several live events to tell you about for tomorrow on c-span3. head of the u.s. chamber of commerce gives you a state of america as a speech at 9:30 a.m. a net income of the result of the university of virginia report about health care costs. and then later eric cantor talks about school choice. our live coverage is at 2:00 p.m. eastern. >> jackson drew a sharp line between state rights and nullification. because it had an obvious consequence of nullification.
and in drawing a sharp line, why was that? because he remembered as he stroked his head that the british were out there and they were waiting to put the american states off one by one. and i have to reiterate this. jackson thought the world was a dangerous place. that danger was something that he felt personally. and he felt it institutionally for the country. and he believed that the separation of the state would open the united states up to an attack and a threat coercion by foreign powers. >> andrew jackson and crisis management sunday at 7:30 p.m. eastern. it is part of american history tv this weekend on c-span3. >> the u.s. providing humanitarian assistance in the syrian civil war. this is about an hour.
[inaudible conversations] >> afternoon. this hearing is a subcommittee on the constitutional civil rights it will come to order. these hearings are entitled syrian refugee crisis. we are pleased to have such a large audience for today's hearing, especially on such a challenging weather day. not as challenging as illinois yesterday, but challenging nevertheless. it demonstrates the importance of this issue and those who are using the hash tag syrian refugees. there was so much interest in today's hearing that we have moved this and we have an overflow room as well. at the outset we will start with a brief video to provide some background of contacts.
we will have opening remarks and senator cruz will be joining us shortly and then we will turn to our witnesses. and at this point we will show the video. >> syria is a country shattered and people are involved in conflict and its neighbors are bearing a brutal burden. and the great tragedy of the century and this shows tens of thousands of syrians. in lebanon refugees lived where they can and abandoned buildings. and in turkey, 200,000 him and tell can't marry him and i am in
line when using a wireless many a few more of our era. more than 2 million refugees in syria is women and children and men wearing on him and let him marry him and more than half of me and larry ahern i am mainly men under the age of 12 years old. and children like this, only two days old when her family fled to
iraq. and this girl, whose hope is to go to school. oradell, and the tide is not subside. more recently enough, a thousand new arrivals in the matter of days. and in jordan, refugees flooded in an overnight crossing, orders are overflowing. support is critical and critically needed to host so many refugees. neighboring countries have shown a great strain on economies and infrastructures. water and food and education. health care and housing. this crisis quires one and humanitarian aid, to help these postwar countries go. across the region, a sense of the future has been broken. life is reduced to survival for
peace and a cab home. ♪ ♪ >> i would like to thank the u.n. commission for allowing us to use these videos. i appreciate your outstanding work of helping syrian refugees. this video gives us some context of the importance of the issue that we are taking up today. today's hearing will focus on the private refugees fleeing the civil war in their home country. this is the world's worst ongoing humanitarian crisis and the worst refugee crisis since the rwanda genocide in 1994 and perhaps since world war ii. a syrian refugee camp especially
struck the plight of children. it is no exaggeration to say that a generation of syrian children are at risk and more than 11,000 children have been killed, including hundreds of have been shot by snipers or executed. come with me for a moment to a visit at this church camp and a word of gratitude to the turkish government. men and women and children, efforts were being made. superhuman methods to provide the basics for food and medicine and even basic education. some would like to put my comments in that context. many of those receiving countries that are making extraordinary sacrifices on their own part to help. the 1.1 million syrian refugees, 70% under the age of 12, 60% not attending school, one in 10 of them refugee children that are working to support the families
come including one that is seven years of age. thousands are separated from their parents and we have heard troubling reports of refugees being recruited as combatants and boys being forced with girls and early marriage. especially the hundreds of thousands living in temporary or unheated tents and shelters and several children have already died from the cold and tragically more are likely to follow. the bashar al-assad regime and rebel groups have brought a deliberate effort to increase pressure on beseeched children. several children have starved to death. one medical expert on underweight children so that we have a middle income country that has transformed itself like somalia. regime checkpoints say that they
need a meal or they will start. this is a deplorable war program and must be stopped. united states has provided this assistance to aid the syrian refugees, meaning the world. we have a moral obligation to assist the syrian refugees, but it is also in the national interest to find a path to stability in this region. and this catastrophe has created created many challenges come including u.s. allies, who are hosting vast majorities of the refugees. these have saved the lives of untold numbers of syrian refugees. we ask you to continue to support them. please take a look at lebanon. a country of 4.4 million people now hosting 860 syrian refugees. this is in the thousands and more than 20% of the lebanese population. the equivalent of the united states facing a sudden influx of 60 million people. it is projected that an additional 1 million could
arrive this year and this has increased competition for limited job opportunities, raise food and housing costs are all been created severe strains on schools and health care and other social services and the number of syrian school-age children are soon likely to exceed the number of lebanese school-age children. as the conflict grinds on, we have begun efforts to resettle, especially vulnerable refugees this fiscal year and for decades the united states has received more than any other country in the world. and 31 syrian refugees in the last fiscal year, they have said that we are likely to accept a few hundred this fiscal year.
as a result, the united states is providing syrian visitors who work in this country on a temporary basis. but we also should accept those refugees who have no way of getting to the united states. in one of the overly broad prohibition that excludes any refugees who have provided any kind of support to an army rebel group. even a group that we in the united states support. and this would prevent those who gave a cigarette or a sandwich from receiving refugee status in the united states despite the fact that the united states is providing assistance to the free syrian army. in other countries must play a larger part in for example, none of the other countries have
committed to accept these syrian refugees in these countries need to step up and do their part. you heard the statistics and it's critical to understand that these individuals are real people. i'd i would like to take a moment to introduce them, two to that have found refuge in the united states. please stand. thank you. this man and his wife are journalists from damascus who took part in a nonviolent protest movement the gentleman was tortured by the regime for publishing recordings of the regime's violent response to peaceful demonstration. his wife's life is threatened as was the life of their 4-year-old daughter. the family fled from syria in january of 2012 and the gentleman came to the united states with the state department
international visitor leadership program. please stand. they do. mr. doe is from damascus. he and his wife now live in virginia and he was imprisoned twice for provoking the bashar al-assad regime, once in 2013 and once in 2012. he fled to jordan and came to the u.s. after he was admitted to the masters program at georgetown. in august of 2012, the thought forces arrested many in his homn come including two of his brothers. he is now working full-time and continues to study. omar, please stand. thank you. he is from damascus and worked over nine years as a journalist. he was arrested seven times in prisons for two years between 2006 in 2008 when he refused to
stop writing, then the prison guards broke his hand. he participates in nonviolent political protest. and he publicized abuses by a syrian security forces. he was pursued by the regime and he was resettled in the united states by catholic charities. submitted a statement and i would like to read a small portion of it. >> i would like to urge you to do all you can to make this possible until orser and refugees can be a part of this. but there are many vulnerable people who could be affected.
as the syrian conflict enters its fourth year, it is clear the refugee crisis will continue. there may be differences as to how to resolve the conflict even within this panel, but there should be no disagreement. there is a moral and national security in. to help alleviate the suffering of innocent syrian refugees and i look forward to about what steps congress and the administration should take and i now recognize the ranking member of the committee. senator ted cruz of texas. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i want to thank you for helping shine the light on what is happening. i am the son of a refugee from cuba.
the refugees have come here today and please let me say welcome to you. i think the united states should be a clarion voice for freedom. and a voice against the oppression of innocent. given what has happened in syria, the united states has rightly participated in the relief effort. and i think it is critical that our aid be dispensed in a way that is consistent with the vital national security interest of the united states, and in particular with our allies in the region in maintaining stability in the region. in the next few months we will mark the third anniversary of the beginnings of the civil war in syria, which tragically drags on with no foreseeable prospect of resolution in the near
future. the humanitarian crisis continues to get worse by the day. amnesty international estimates that some 2.3 million people have been displaced. 52% of them are children. one third of syria's population has been forced out of their homes. jordan's population has increased by 9% and lebanon's population has increased by 19%. this disaster demands the attention of the united states not only because americans have been traditionally a generous people who have volunteered to step forward with the assistance of humanitarian crises, but also because this crisis threatens the stability of some of our key allies, including jordan and lebanon and israel. given its fragile political situation, lebanon is a
particular concern. it would be tragic and dangerous if the iranian backed hezbollah gain control of the country. and we should be concerned that hezbollah is the smuggling long-range missile systems from syria into lebanon. where they can be used to target israel. and it is also a serious concern that some of the al qaeda affiliated terrorist, who have infiltrated the syrian opposition, have also infiltrated the refugee population and are using them as cover to move into host nations. this has been a great concern to many countries who have been asked to grant additional information. in addition i am concerned about the neglected plight of many christian refugees both inside and outside syria.
the records of the ancient christian community that are targeted by extremist elements in the opposition that the regime forces can't or won't protect our heartbreaking. and as we explored the issue, we should not neglect the tragic circumstances of those facing oppression. chairman dick durbin has worked hard for a long time to ensure that perpetrators of human rights abuses do not obtain safe haven in the united states. and i thank the chairman for his leadership on that issue. particularly through the genocide accountability act and human rights enforcement act. both of which have been made law. while we have come a long way because it determines work, his intention highlights the challenges that still remain to improve the federal law and
strengthen our immigration screening system at the front end, thereby ensuring the dangers that people are not allowed into this country when they are dangerous. not only do we have a humanitarian crisis, but we have a security crisis as well. i look forward to hearing the thoughts of the members of the panel on how we can approach the interrelated problems and hopefully how we can make progress. i welcome you. >> thank you, senator ted cruz. senator klobuchar has asked for a brief statement and i will offer the same statement to the others. >> thank you for holding this important hearing. as remains one of the most important challenges and it is essential with our stability in the region.
in april i visited the april and there was actually one of them, jordan and turkey would senator graham and senator gillibrand. and we had the opportunity to visit refugee camp on the border there and to meet with a few of the 120,000 syrians that were there. and i will never forget this visit were the one man who told each of the people we met with went through what happened with their families. a young boy, was only 11 years old, it felt like he had the weight of the world on his shoulders. his father had a been shot and badly injured before escaping to jordan. now it is up to this 11-year-old boy to make sure that the rest of his family was taken care of.
every day he would stand in line for food and water, every day he could carry what he could hold in his hands back to his family. at 11 years old he had seen more suffering and injustice than most people will see in their entire lifetime. this is just one of millions of tragic stories that we have heard from the men, women, and children who have had to flee their homes in syria. my home state has always been a state of refugees. we have one of the largest somali populations in the contry, and we have a long hmong population in the country. we see these refugees whether they be from somalia or liberia as part of the fabric of our state and culture, and we are as much the richer for them. i am looking forward to hearing about resettlement efforts at this point. i'm looking forward to hearing about where aid is going, something senator graham and i encountered when we were there in terms of an issue and other steps being taken to help syrians that are in desperate need of assistance. thank you.
>> thank you. senator graham. >> thank you, senator durbin. i won't take long. i just want to thank you for holding this hearing. i think it's an issue that merits our attention. i think we have been in the hearing on this before, ms. richard. we have been a day late and dollar short consistently with our response to the syrian crisis. and as a result we have always been behind the curve. as a result i think there's been unnecessary human suffering. like senator klobuchar i traveled to the area with a bipartisan delegation. i would like to put into the record a letter that senator mccain and i, senator gillibrand, senator blumenthal and others wrote to the president urging a fulsome and robust response to the crisis that has developed in syria, and i hope we learn a lesson from this because, frankly, we were warned all along the way. despite the warning from
members of congress, from allies in the neighborhood we remained always a day late and a dollar short. i think it has been a very unfortunate episode. .hank you >> without, the letter will be admitted into the record. the committee has a standard of practice swears in the witness. i ask the three to please stand and raise your right hand. do you affirm the testimony you are about to give before the subcommittee will be the trithe, whole truth, and nothing but the truth so help you god. thank you. let the witnesses reflect the witnesses have answered in the affirmative. each witness will give five minutes for opening statement and the written statements included in their entirety. senator leahy, the chairman of the full judiciary committee has been a leader on refugee issues, has submit add statement. without objection it will be -- submitted a statement. without objection will be placed into the record. our first witness, ann richard, currently serves as secretary
of state for migration. he was an advocate for international committee. and helping refugees internally displaced from other conflicts. during the clinton administration she served in a variety of capacities in the state and peace corps and office of management and budget. prior to her government service, she's was part of the team that created the international crisis group. she has a b.s. in foreign service from georgetown university, and m.a. in public policy studies from the university of chicago. thank you for joining us today. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i'd like to thank the other members, ranking member cruz, senator klobuchar, and senators whitehouse and graham for coming out today. senator graham has sat through and chaired a similar hearing. he's a die-hard fan of ours. we appreciate that. or at least very interested in the subject which we appreciate. thank you for holding this hearing and blig attention to
the tragedy unfoileding in the middle east. i'm here today with colleagues from u.s. agency for international development and department of homeland security. i'm going to limit my remarks to the state department's role in assisting refugees overseas. we are also going to talk about aid inside syria. and molly groom from d.h.s. will talk about resettlement. i'm happy to take questions on any of these subjects because we are working very closely together on all these things. in the interest of time i'll keep my remarks more restricted. you know that more than 2.3 million have crossed syria's borders and are considered refugees. they fled to all the neighboring countries. most of whom are struggling to help them. we are incredibly grateful to these countries for letting them in. and we want them to keep their borders opened and not push anyone back. in order for them to do so, these neighboring countries need our help. they need our help not just in delivering aid to the refugees, but they also need our help for their own poor citizens. and they need help for their
bubts -- budgets which are strained by delivering services to these much larger populations. schools have moved to double shifts to accommodate the children, hospital beds are filled by syrian patients, rents have risen, wages have fallen as a result of the competition for housing and jobs. there are water shortages. the drain on water resources, especially severe in jordan. helping the host community, in addition to the refugees themselves, we do this, for example, in parts of chad where they are given help along refugees from darfur. and we need more in terms of providing services in addition to items like food vouchers and blankets. this will involve more than just humanitarian agencies. we need and are getting help from the world bank and development agencies and our colleagues at usaid to work on longer term development n talking about the situation,
the refugees themselves, i think that was a very good video that we saw from unacr. i recently made by sixth visit to the region. my seventh is upcoming to jordan this weekend. right before christmas i traveled to northern iraq. there i had the pleasure of wading through oceans of mud in cold temperatures to visit with refugee families and consult with local government officials. the u.s. agencies, nongovernmental organizations, and local charities have managed to have a lot of people in tents and keep them warm using an extra layer of tenting fabric, and lots and lots of blankets. still this is no place for children to grow up. i saw kids there running around in plastic flip-flops without socks. this is not a good environment for families. and i have met with syrian refugees in all of the other countries bordering syria. in lebanon they continue to keep its borders mostly opened and now hosting the largest number of refugees in the
smallest country in the region. you have already mentioned its refugees make up 20% of the population in lebanon on top of 400,000 palestinians who have been there for decades. more than a million refugees are split between turkey and jordan. those are just the registered refugees. there are many more living in both those cities. iraq and egypt also have large populations of syrians. it's important to know, and i am so grateful that some of you have visited the camps, but most refugees do not live in the camps. in early december my principal deputy assistant secretary visited refugees in the cities of southern turkey and there he saw the work of n.g.o.'s and musenies pal governments struggling to deal with an influx of refugees living in the cities and towns of turkey. despite their efforts, most were not getting services and living in substandard conditions. for this reason one of our top goals is to focus more
attention on the plight of urban refugees and do everything we can to get aid to these families. other challenges that we talk about in the testimony are children. the u.n. high commissioner for refugees and unicef have come together. there's a press statement that gave out today that save the children and world vision were also involved in an initiative we support called no loss generation. trying to make sure that we keep these children inside and fleeing from syria safe, healthy, educated, and away from danger. they need a future. another issue of great concern to all of us is protection of women and girls. here we have, i know, a lot of bipartisan support. we also have support from secretary kerry who has put together an initiative called safe from the start, to make sure we protect women and girls in this cry sifments we are also concerned about them surviving the winter. final remarks i'd like to say that on january 15 we'll be in
debate for a pledging conference to reiterate american support for the humanitarian response. of course beyond that our secretary will be heading to the again neeve yeah two conference to bring peace to this very troubled area. this is not the only crisis to which we are rushing humanitarian aid. south sudan is suffering a political crisis that has displaced 190,000 of its citizens with another 32,000 streaming across its boarders. the latest update puts the number of displaced at 930,000. this is 20% of that country's population displaced. the same proportion as there are refugees in lebanon. this administration is addressing all of thee crisis at the same time with high levels of vigor and energy and dedication. the most senior mefments administration are fully engaged including the national security advisor and my boss, john kerry. but their intention does not
mean these tough situations are easily solved and we can't do much without your support. especially in the case of humanitarian endeavors, support for our budget and budgets of all our diplomatic activities is very helpful. thank you. >> thanks, ms. richard. nancy lindburgh serves as usaid assistant administrator for the bureau of democracy, conflict, and humanitarian assistance. where she leads the efforts of more than 500 team members in nine offices focused on crisis prevention, response, recovery, and transition. she has led dcha teams in response to the ongoing sir yab crisis, the 2012 horn of africa 2011 droughts, the arab spring, and numerous other global crises. she was back to her home base in chicago a few months ago discussing the typhoon in the philippines. i know you have very busy schedule. prior to joining usaid she was president of mercy corps for 14 years, b. a&m a. in english
literature from stanford, m.a. in public administration from the j.f.k. school of harvard. i want to take this opportunity to thank you again for coming >> thank you very much, chairman durbin. thank as, ranking member cruz and other members of the subcommittee. we really appreciate your having this hearing today to shine a light on this crisis and most importantly put a human face on it. we've heard the staggering statistics and the numbers are really hard to comprehend and thank you for the stories that you told. but those in need in this crisis are equal to the entire state of new jersey. and the displaced are as if the entire state of massachusetts were out of their homes. and most importantly the five million children who are affected is equal to the children in the entire 25 largest school districts in this country. so that's all of new york, all
of los angeles, etc., etc., for 25 school districts. this is a generation of syrian children who have been traumatized by bombs, who have -- many of them lost their homes, their families, their friends. and unfortunately similar to massachusetts and new jersey, the region faces one of the worst winters in the last 100 years, adding to the hardship of families out of their homes. working in partnership, the united states humanitarian response has reached millions. we have saved millions of lives. but we also know that the needs are escalating faster than any of our collective responses can manage to reach. , so i'd like to cover three quick areas today. first, a quick update on our very significant life-saving humanitarian response, which does include a focus on the most vulnerable, especially women and very importantly children who will steer the future course of this country and this nation. the united states has made a
total contribution of $1.3 billion. and we are reaching regularly about 4.2 million people in all 14 governance inside syria, as well as the two million refugees in neighboring countries and we've doubled the number of our partners inside syria and we're working through all possible channels, the u.n., n.g.o.'s, international groups and local. we are reaching about 2.7 million people with medical care and thanks to the many and extraordinarily courageous doctors, nurses and health care workers who risk their lives every day inside syria. we are the single largest donor of emergency food aid and thanks to the very flexible tools that allow us to provide vouchers and do local regional purchase, we are able to feed about 4.2 million people inside syria and 1.3 million refugees every day who depend upon that food. all of our assistance takes into account the vulnerability, particularly of women and whirn
and women who experience gender-based violence. we have an initiative called safe from the start. that prioritizes this in all of our assistance. also we are working very closely with the international community on the no loss generation strategy, that looks at programs to help children inside and outside of syria and today is the start of a very major multipartner media campaign to put a face on this crisis that has dragged on into its third year now. so, a few key challenges that i want to note. the first is that the insecurity of this war zone complicates every day the ability to deliver assistance. roads are closing, hundreds of checkpoints make it very dangerous for aid workers to cross lines and to get into communities. most concerning, there's an estimated 250,000 people who have been completely and deliberately cut off from humanitarian assistance for many
months now. in areas that is are besieged by the regime, as you noted, in campaigns that are unconscionable. in october the u.n. security council passed a presidential statement that urges all parties of the conflict to facilitate immediate access. this statement lays down a very clear set of markers for the syrian regime regarding the world's expectations that it will provide the access that it's long denied and by taking these clear steps, the regime has the power to enable life-saving assistance to reach more than 200,000 people in need immediately. finally, resources remain a key constraint and as we head to kuwait next week for the donors conference, we're making a major push for all donors across the globe to step up to the plate, to help with this escalating burden. we have also within uaid,
reoriented our development activities in the neighboring states. we are working with our development and humanitarian resources and with our partners to help create a comprehensive response for the neighbors states that are straining to accommodate the needs of their own people in addition to the millions of new refugees. and we're seeing this convergence of of course communities hosting the largest number of refugees. so in jordan, for example, where the domestic water supply is among the lowest in the world, usaid used $20 million from our complex crisis fund to help communities with that large refugee population. so our efforts are both to assist with the development needs of communities as well as contribute to the region's stability. we know that humanitarian assistant is not the solution to this -- assistance is not the solution this horrible crisis and it cannot end the bloodshed but it is saving countless lives every day. it is helping to protect the vulnerable from a very, very devastating conflict.
the united states remains committed to using every possible tool that we can to reach syrians in need and to bring in our full diplomatic weight to help attain greater access. so thank you for your time today, for the vital congressional support that makes our work possible, and we look forward to your questions. >> thanks. we're now going to hear from mollie groom. immigration and border security. at the department of homeland security. she's detailed to her current position from her permanent role as chief of the refugee and asylum law division in the office of chief council. she's worked in a variety of capacities on immigration law, in the department of justice and the department of homeland security. graduate of duke with an a.b. in comblish, a j.d. and her master's in social science, received national security law from georgetown university. i came to know ms. groom when she was on detail with senator
menendez to work on the bipartisan comprehensive immigration bill that the senate considered this year. last year i should say. it is nice to see you again. the floor is yours. you want to push the button in front of you there? >> thank you so much. and thank you, ranking member cruz, and the distinguished members of the subcommittee. i appreciate the opportunity to address the refugee resettlement and other humanitarian efforts that we are under taking to address the crisis in sir yafment as you are all aware, -- syria. as you are all aware, the u.s. has a proud and long standing tradition of giving protection and freedom to refugees from around the world who fear persecution. refugee resettlement is a cornerstone of our national character and reflects our country's commitment to humanitarian ideals. it is this commitment which must be carried out. d.h.s. along with the department of state is committed to ensuring that the u.s. continues to take a leading role in
refugee resettlement and other humanitarian protections. the u.s. refugee admissions program serves a critical role in identifying individuals in need of protection who do not present a risk to our national security and to our otherwise admissible to the u.s. as jeffrey -- as refugees. it is d.h.s.'s immigration and services that is responsible for determining whether individuals meet the refugee definition. they do this by conducting individual, in depth interviews and considering the results of security affects, extensive security checks. in 2005 uscis created the refugee corps, a can dray of specially trained officers who travel overseas. these officers receive extensive training which includes information about the specific populations they will be interviewing, including the likely types of claims that they will encounter, fraud trenleds or security issues, and detailed country of origin information,
all refugee status determinations under go 100% supervisory review, before final decision is reached. security checks are an integral part of the refugee resettlement process. and coordinating these checks is a shared responsibility between the department of state and the democratic of homeland security -- department of homeland security. the refugee vetting process in place today employs robust security measures to protect risk to our national security. and d.h.s. would never approve a refugee applicant for travel until all required security checks are completed and cleared. refugee vetting happens at different stages of the process. and the procedure includes initial, biographic and biometric security checks against d.h.s. holdings, f.b.i. holdings, department of defense holdings, state holdings and intelligence community holdings. and those checks are performed again, the interagency a checks, predeparture, so that is before the refugee is scheduled to travel to the united states.
while no screening is infallible, we believe that our current refugee screening systems are more likely today to detect individuals with derogatory information should they apply. d.h.s. works early on with the department of state to provide feedback on which refugee groups being considered for resettlement are likely to qualify and which may pose eligibility concerns. the broad definitions of terrorist activity and terrorist organizations under u.s. immigration law are often a hurdle to resettling otherwise eligible refugees who pose no security threat. examples of these groups include the ethnic burmese who provided food to an individual or iraqis who paid ransoms for the release of family members. given the complexities of the crisis in syria, we believe certain refugees fleeing the crisis may fall within the terrorism-related inadmissibility grounds as they are defined in the immigration and nationality act.
with the breadth of these grounds, the law also gives the secretaries of state and homeland security in consultation with the attorney general, broad discretionary authority to issue exemptions when the circumstances might justify an exemption. d.h.s., d.o.s. and the department of justice engage in interagency consultation process on the exercise of this exemption authority. this process is used to ensure that the terrorism-related and admissibility grounds are applied in a way that protect our national security but also allow individuals who pose no threat to potentially receive immigration benefits that they are otherwise eligible for. if the secretary of homeland security or the secretary of state exercises the exemption authority, the department of homeland security or the department of state may then apply these exemptions on a case by case basis. taking into consideration the totality of the circumstances. any individual who poses a threat to the safety or security
of the u.s. would not be eligible for an exemption. we are ever-mindful that addressing humanitarian needs must be coupled with robust measures to protect national security, including the security screening of refugee applicants. with regard to the population fleeing syria, the department of homeland security and the department of state have had a series of conversations on how best to address resettlement of any potential exemmingts-related issues. with regard to possible new exemption authority, interagency a consultations are ongoing. i appreciate the opportunity to testify and for your interest in how we are approaching resettlement of refugees fleeing the crisis in syria. and i would be happy to answer any questions you may have. >> thanks. uhcr has begun efforts to resettle especially vulnerable refugees in third countries, including 30,000 in fiscal year 2014. i'm struck by that number. that they're trying to resettle
30,000 and we're talking about an order of magnitude in the millions of refugees, but 30,000 is the unhcr target number. the united states typically accepts more than half of resettled refugees under this type of program. administration officials previously told the staff or a subcommittee the united states is likely to accept only a few hundred syrian refugees in this fiscal year, which ends in october. october 1. however in your testimony today, you said, and i quote, we expect to accept referrals for several thousand refugees in 2014. can you please clarify that? >> thank you for your question. and i get asked a lot about whether we will accept refugees in the united states, not just here in washington, but also when i travel overseas. because the neighboring countries would like us to, out of solidarity with them, bring in a share of refugees as well. i explained to them that it is our tradition to do so.
we have every intention of doing so. we are not at all opposed to bringing syrian refugees to the united states. the fact that we haven't brought many so far is due to, first, our hope and now discarded that this conflict would be over quickly and they would be able to go home quickly. and that has not been the case. secondly, we take refugees after they've been referred by the u.n. high commissioner for refugees, and so that process did not start at once but instead started after a period of time. and now our own process takes a little while, it's very deliberate and careful, it's designed to be that way to make sure that we only take bona fide refugees. so we are working very quickly now to respond to referrals from unhcr and to start that process of bringing in refugees. unhcr's think that desire to send 30,000 to new
homes in other countries this year is ambition -- ambitious and i want to do everything we can to bring in as many as we can to the united states before the end of the fiscal year. in all honesty i don't think you'll see big numbers until the next fiscal year, the end of this calendar year. >> of course it's difficult to speak to our allies and friends and ask them to also bear the burden if we don't do it as well. >> that's right. the good thing is, i was able to say that we would -- could be counted on to bring in refugees in part because we have this that digs that has bipartisan support on the hill -- this tradition that has bipartisan support on the hill of bringing in refugees. last year we brought in 70,000. that was the closest we've come in 30 years to reaching our target level. we've got 99.9% of the refugees we planned to bring in we brought in. so we've done a lot of things to make sure our process works quickly and well. it's deliberately supposed to be
designed. the bona fide refugees come in and bad guys do not come in. and that process that molly described very well of checking to make sure that we're only bringing bona fide refugees does take a little time. >> so, let's go to the bad guy issue. and talk about it for a moment. i mentioned it at the outset. because of concerns over what we've heard in terms of applying the rules as written. if someone is seeking refugee status and they somehow even supported an armed rebel group which the united states is directly supporting, it could in some cases raise questions if not disqualify them. the same questions have been raised about those who help groups under duress. it was a witness before this committee or a case before this committee of a colombian nurse who at the point of gun was providing medical assistance to a farc injured rebel and was disqualified as a refugee
because of her involvement, even though her actions were under duress. the point made senor into the united states who will be a threat to our security. that is something i think we owe the american people, the assurance we've done everything humanly possible to stop that from occurring. let me ask you at this point, ms. groom, as you reflect on this, can you update us on the status of exemptions that have been prepared for cases like those that i've described? and what is the timetable for a decision about proposed material exemption to the material support bar which i think overarching -- is an overarching description what have we've been describing? >> thank you for the opportunity to talk about the trig grounds as we call them. and the exemption process. as you know, the terrorism-related inadmissibility grounds are quite broad, because of the
definition of terrorist organizations and the definition of terrorist activity. a terrorist organization is -- includes any undesignated terrorist organization, which means any two members who use a firearm or other weapon with the intent to endanger. that is a terrorist organization if they engage in terrorist activity. so the exemption process is the flexibility that is provided for in the law and >> the process is the flexibility provided in the law. the interagency working group that i mentioned has exercised an exemption for those who provide medical care under duress. there is also an exemption for those who provide material under duress. and yet believe that your asking something that we have been discussing for quite some time
we are nearing the finish line. we are at the point of senior-level engagement and we will bring this to a close and it will be moving to the secretarial level for decision-making very shortly. so i hope to have good news on that front soon. >> thank you. when i visited the refugee camp in turkey, 10,000 people accommodated a large number of people and men and women and children and i am sure that these children were completely beside themselves to figure out why we were there. they were syrian children who were in the classroom being taught in turkish and talked about american visitors in english so what measures are
under way to try to avoid this? >> there is a unified campaign and strategy under the heading that is looking at this and how do we pull together the resources from a humanitarian account with our partners as well both inside and outside syria and the neighboring countries and how we focus and i'm always a we can help children both access education and otherwise and be provided with the kind of safe bases and opportunities they create normalcy. so in addition to the assistance that we are providing to our humanitarian efforts, we are also part of the development funds and focusing on education
because one of the big challenges is the number of those who need to be accommodated by an overburdened school system. boccardi have double shifts in this. and the focus is to create that comprehensive approach where we are able to bring the development funds that help the community and also get kids into ways that they have more of a sense of hope. inside syria it is much more complicated because it is difficult to roost country restore infrastructure when they are under aerial bombardment. and so we have had a focus of a psychological situation that we can help to provide that and get clothing and food to eat. >> thank you, mr. chairman, and thank you to each of the members of the panel today.
the balkans in the 1990s. and this is different in many ways that one of the things that have happened is that we have seen a country lose about 35 years of development and in a sense it is a suicide with syria. civilians have been killed and there are tens of thousands and this ought to be the generation that would be the future of syria. and they are traumatized in this
setting horrible standard als in mayhem and tragedy that can be pread in a couple years. >> in terms of prior refugee crises, what efforts have been undertaken to alleviate those crises and how successful would you characterize those efforts as having been? >> i think today we see the fruits of some of the lessons learned in the past because ever before have i seen such a impressive group of u.n. agency heads, including a few americans , unicef and the world food program, so we have a lot of very good relations with the u.n. leadership there. and also we have some really good experience behind them. and also we have a much more
professional aide workers on the ground, using more tie time-tested techniques to -- more time-tested techniques to help people. the problem is that it's such an overwhelming crisis. that even though so many lives have been saved and so many people have gotten help in the places to which they have run, it's not enough. it requires more. this is why we are taking extraordinary measures like the kuwait pledging conference held for a second year soon, and trying to pull the world together, get new donors to the never before degrees of coordination between the players in the field to work together. >> and this is a question for anyone on the panel who would care to respond. but in your judgment, how would you assess the impact of this crisis on u.s. allies in the
region and in particular lebanon in terms of the stability and security? >> i'll start -- it's having a devastating impact. the undermining the stability of the region. it's no longer a syria crisis, it's a regional crisis. d we have very close relationships in jordan, our embassy works very closely with the government there. they are very, very worried about their abilities to host this third wave of refugees because they have hosted palestinians for decades, they've hosted iraqi refugees recently, an uptick in refugees from iraq coming into jordan, and now they have opened their homes and cities and towns and schools to the syrians. the only place worse off than jordan in terms of concerns and the fears of the government officials with whom i meet is
lebanon. and lebanon has -- is just not -- has just not got a society and a government organized to respond as robustly as some of the other countries. and so there has been increased tensions within that society, even as they brought in more refugees than any other city -- or any other state, and even as they've been very generous in letting people come and kept their borders open, the tensions have built and the internal sectarian tensions are also on the rise. and so we should all be very concerned about what this crisis means for the countries in the region. >> an let me again ask the panel, in your judgment, how serious a threat and how widespread are we seeing the
infiltration and exploitation of refugees by al qaeda and radical extremists? >> i'll answer that. it's not large numbers. most refugees groups that you meet, most in the camps, are civilians, families, law-abiding people who are just shattered by what's happening in syria. this thing that we know though is it doesn't take a lot of evil doctors to cause a lot of halve -- evil doers to cause a lot of havoc. it's not a wide problem but it is a real problem and so that's why i respect your concern that we do everything we can to avoid radicalization and that, also to make sure that borders are guarded carefully. so that only legitimate refugees come across. which will be the most of the people will be legitimate refugees but also the bad element is kept out.
what i fear for though is i don't want americans to equate refugees with terrorists. and they're not. refugees here today with us are journalists and scholars and family people. so, i guess i don't have to convince you. if your parents were refugees. but i do think that sometimes americans who have not personally met refugees are fearful. once they meet refugees usually they're convinced. refugees themselves make the best ambassadors toward this program. >> thank you very much. >> thank you very much. thank you to aum of you, our witnesses -- thank you to all of you, our witnesses. the one thing i thought was good that you talked about early on is that we focus a lot on the camps, several of us as you noted have been there. but that in fact most of the refugees are out in the countries, in jordan for the most part, and other countries.
and i understand nearly 520,000 refugees are in jordan, increasing that country's population by 9%, over 750,000 in lebanon, adding 20%. when we visited jordan last april we met with the king and he met with us for a significant period of time and talked about how the refugee situation was increasingly difficult for his country to handle. to use secretary richard and then administrator lindborg, how do you consider all that? >> first, i would just like to say that nancy lindborg is from minnesota, she's not from illinois. so we should just out her right there. you can tell by her last name. >> i lived in chicago for four years. >> i live there had for two years. - i lived there for two years. so, we're very concerned about
jordan, which is why we spent a lot of time visiting with our colleagues who work in jordan, and also with ambassadors here and we have a very active embassy there led by ambassador jones and we have a lot of colleagues who are working in jordan, to work very carefully with that government which is very aligned in their approach to the crisis. to provide assistance. they know that our funding in the state department, population refugees immigration bureau that i lead, goes through the u.n. high commissioner for refugees, goes through the international organization -- >> is it true that -- just speaking of the u.n. high commission, i know when senator graham and i were there, we were concerned that when it comes from the u.n., it only goes through the assad regime. is that correct? >> no, that's not correct. >> assad regime does not benefit from u.s. taxpayer support?
>> the u.n. aid can go to the rebel groups. what is true is that -- and nancy i can tell wants to pick up on this, what is true is that the u.n. agencies need the permission of the assad regimes to bring their staff in on visas and to set up their operations in damascus and then they try to get as far around syria as they can get. >> ok, but that does mean that they have control over where the aid goes and it makes it harder for it to go to certain regions. > yes. >> to finish on this. the constraints on providing assistance from a damascus basis are the core parts of this october statement that was released, that has a very specific list that we're happy to send to you all, that says these are the things that we need for that assistance to be able to reach people in need more effectively and it's in
particular the 200,000 who are in areas besinaled by the syrian regime -- besieged by the syrian regime, as well as two million people who are in conflict-affected areas. so we have a lot of concerns about the ability to reach everyone in need. to your question about jordan, i think that for both jordan and lebanon as well, there's a lot of concern about the stability when you have that level of influx of refugees. in jordan we have put about $1 billion of assistance through development aid to jordan, both for budget support, as well as into those communities that have the greatest refugee burden. there's a lot of concern about stress infrastructure and about very scarce resources and so we've put much of our development assistance focused on that. we're also, as we provide humanitarian assistance, looking at ways that not only it benefits the refugee population, but also the locals. so because of this flexibility that we have with some of our
food aid assistance, we've done vouchers that enable the refugees to buy food in local stores so it's a revenue benefit for the local merchants. which makes a huge difference in terms of community acceptance. >> ms. groom, i was looking at the numbers from southeast asia and i think we got 130,000 south asian refugees that came to the u.s. at the end of the vietnam war. and many of them are in minnesota and i would note the burmese. many of those are in minnesota as well. i'm just concerned when i hear these numbers, hundreds that senator durbin was talking about, even though assistant secretary richard talked about thousands, but i'm very concerned about the numbers. when i think that we should be making it easier, while still checking everything you need to check. i know in the immigration bill there were some provisions that passed the senate that would make it easier to speed up some of these asylum applications.
would that helpful? >> yes, thank you so much for the question. as you note, in senate bill 744, it does remove the one-year filing drawing from asylum claims and that is something we've seen in the past year, 1,335 syrians have applied for asylum. now, while there is an exception for the one-year filing deadline right now, if it were removed and the senate bill were passed, it would make those claims move more quickly and it seems to be the right result given the crisis there. there are also some other changes to the refugee program that are contained in the bill that might be useful for resettling refugees. and then there are changes also to the expedited removal and the credible fear process. >> how many do you think we're going to be able to resettle in the u.s. in the coming year when there's 135,000 or whatever that have applied? well, i i think assistant secretary richard spoke to -- the numbers were really -- the
referrals are going to start coming in very shortly. but then the process works. and it takes a bit of time. so we're going to start seeing arrivals not until the end of this year likely. >> it seems like such a long time. i would just end with that. just say to the refugees that are here with us today, the , how sorry it here am about this and on christmas eve our church were like many churches in the u.s., everyone hold as candle and we go around and sing "silent night" and i hadn't been thinking of syria for a number of weeks, and that was all i could think about when i stood there. was those refugees that when we went and visited them, the rebels were doing much better and we said, oh, we know this is going to improve for you by the end of this year with he know the situation is improving and to me it's only gotten worse. that's why i'm so much interested in this idea of the resettlement and working with
our allies and leading so that other countries in europe and other places will also bring in these refugees as we do not see an immediate end to this conflict. so i appreciate your effort. thank you. >> thanks. i want to thank my colleague, senator graham, for his patience in waiting. and especially for his dedication to syria and the challenges it faces. senator graham. >> thank you, mr. chairman. for, one, hosting this hearing. i think most americans are concerned about a lot of things. and syria's hard to get people's attention about. not because americans are hard-hearted but the complicated world in which we live in. hearings like this are very important. i want to compliment the ranking member here. i think he understands exactly what's going on. ms. groom, in 2014, does congress need to do anything pretty soon to make sure that we can achieve our fair share of e refugees in changing the laws? do you have any proposals? >> i don't have any proposals to offer you today.
but we have offered to work with the senate -- >> i guess what i'm saying. i don't see a comprehensive immigration bill passing any time soon. so when it comes to changes in our laws, exemptions, if you need something beyond the ability you have within the body that you work, please let us know. because i think a lot of us may have different views about immigration, but would be willing to accommodate some legal changes if it would help expedite this process. that's an opportunity for you. >> i welcome that. >> consume of ideas right off the top of my head. never missing an opportunity. is that, you know, we have this sort of tradeoff to make within our budget, at the state department. do we -- how much do we devote to bringing refugees to the u.s. and how much do we devote to helping refugees overseas in the places where they live? we help far more overseas. it sounds like there is support here for bringing even more
refugees to the united states, beyond the 70,000 that we brought. but in order to do that, we would hate to undermine our overseas programs. and so we need support for both. >> let's talk about this. i think there is bipartisan support for trying to do a better job in terms of assimilating nonterrorist refugees in the united states. i just think senator cruz represents what can happen when you take people from other countries. our country benefits. and i'm sure there are democrats who are refugees too. so we don't want to make this partisan. [laughter] but the bottom line is, i think america has a pretty good track record of assimilating people. now, about the budget. , how muchfood program of their budget is allocated to syria? >> increasingly a large percentage. >> i just met with a lady in rome. she says they're being overwhelmed.
>> they are overwhelmed. we are the largest single donor and it vacuums up all of our flexibility. >> her budget is being destroyed. >> as it ours -- >> every other refugee in the problem is being displaced but syria. so the world food program is being devastated by syria. when it comes to appropriations, ms. richard, i'm the ranking republic working with -- republican working with senator lee. week of tried to increase funding. there's a limit of what we can do. could you provide the appropriations committee and the judiciary committee with what you think would be a two or three-year plan here? do you see the war ending this year? >> regrettably no. >> do you think al qaeda's going to go to geneva 2? >> i don't hang out a lot with al qaeda. >> i know. but i don't think they're going to be invited. >> i think the chances for geneva 2 making some modest excesses are increasing just in the last few days. but i defer to robert ford on that. >> i hope you're right. but here's what i see. >> i think dish know where you
and i agree is that this is not an easy crisis to end. >> what i'm trying to lay out is the worst is yet to come. do you agree with that? >> i hope that's not the case. >> hope is not my question. do you agree that the worst is yet to come? >> if i were not a hopeful person i wouldn't be in my job. >> well, just from an analytical point of view. do you think the worst is yet to come? >> we do know that this is the largest u.n. appeal in history. and it is more than 2/3 of the rest of the global appeals put together. >> do you think, ms. richard, that 2014 is dramatically better for syria or worse? in terms of the refugee problem? >> what concerns me is the idea of donor fatigue taking hold. we have been trying to get more donations from our countries and so if it continues the way it has, and i would be stupid to suggest it might not, if it continues that way, we have got
to somehow enlist new donors to come. >> do you think it would be wise for america to plan for the worst and not hope for best when it comes to syria? >> i agree that in dealing with a refugee crisis of this magnitude, we have to have contingencies for some really scary scenarios. >> let's talk about some of those. they're not unrealistic. you were at -- and i really, you know, you do a good job. i don't mean to be exative here. at the hearing we had in appropriations, didn't the lebanese ambassador say his country was saturated? >> absolutely. he had -- we've provided the photos so he show that there are syrian refugees on every square turf of lebanon. >> he said they can't take any more people. what's the likelihood in 2014 of lebanon closing their borders to syrian refugees? >> i'm going to try -- >> would you agree that would be a bad situation? >> to keep that from happening. >> trying -- i'm trying to plan for the worst case. >> the worst case scenario would
be a lot more refugees streaming out of syria. the amazing thing to me is that not more have. they clearly are trying to stay put. >> i think the worst case scenario would be if they had no place to go. what's the likelihood of lebanon and jordan closing their borders because their countries' sovereignty and security is at risk, to syrian refugees in 2014? >> we have seen that what is happening is that the borders have already been moved from being open in most cases to being managed. >> could you give me a plan, let's assume for the worst now, what would our response be as the world and as a nation if in 2014, god for bid, the lebanese closed their borders, the jordanians closed their borders? so you don't have to answer that question now. but i think we need to get really serious about this. because i think the worst is yet to come and i got -- and i hope i'm wrong. >> one of the things is good is
that the u.n. appeals assume, you though, more challenging scenarios -- you know, more challenging scenarioses and build in those funding. in terms of our being able to respond, i think we have benefited from your work and senator leahy's work last year that provided -- >> but that's nod quat over time, don't you think -- but that's inadequate over time, don't you think? we need to come up with a funding plan. >> the reason it's inadequate is because we haven't seen other countries step up and we have other crises to deal with. the other piece that i want to make sure i mention to you all today, is that the department of health and human services helps refugees once they've arrived in the u.s. we provide the aid thanks to you all, for the first 30 to the 0 days. 0 days. r that it's -- 9 but after that it's up to h.h.s. >> i've i'm giving you an opportunity here to tell us that maybe the worst is yet to come.
and prepare members of congress who are sympathetic with the bill you may send us. so if i were you, i would suggest to take this opportunity to sit down and write out what we may be facing as a nation in terms of our obligations to stabilize the region. that's all i'm asking. >> and we very much appreciate that. just to your point, we keep passing the worst case scenario. so we need to be thinking of that. there have already been extraordinary strains on the system. we keep coming up with new ways of addressing it and we will continue to be faced with that pressure and we would very much welcome the opportunity to work with you all further on envisioning what that might take. we were able to do the response that we did in this last fiscal year because of the very important support that we received. especially from the senate. so we thank you for that and i think that the partnership into the future will be really, eally important.
>> thank you, senator graham. i want to ask three last questions. and i'll ask senator cruz if he'd like to as well. we've not mentioned egypt which is receiving over 130,000 syrian refugees. we read about egypt every day and the political instability and violence in that nation. in lebanon in jordan, i have a different mind's image of what's going on on the grounds, weakness, vulnerability and worry, but in egypt it looks like clear instability. and i'd like to ask, syrian refugees who have fled to egypt face challenges because of this political turmoil. conditions for syrian refugees who have fled there have deteriorated in recent months as their political environment has deteriorated in egypt. some syrian refugees in egypt have faced arbitrary detention and deportation back to syria. has the u.s. government taken any steps to address the concerns that have been raised about the treatment of syrian refugees in egypt?
>> yes, senator. as you said, more than 130,000 syrian refugees have been registered in egypt. there's an additional 20,000 awaiting registration. most are living in greater cairo, significant numbers are also in alexandria. and on july 8 the interim yptian government proposed restriction procedures. tensions have resulted in increasing hostility toward syrians and palestinians from syria and have led to deportation and detention of refugees. the u.s. is providing funding to unhcr and other agencies to address their needs and unhcr has appealed to egyptian authorities to protect all syrians seeking refuge. at this morning's state department staff meeting we were joined by assistant secretary patterson who until recently was our u.s. ambassador to egypt. so i know she's fully aware of this. and she was part of a conversation this morning about
jis. ref >> -- refugees. >> there's a practical issue here on this no lost generation that gets down to something very basic and that is the fact that babies are being born in these refugee settings. recent unhcr survey on birth registration revealed 781 syrian newborns in lebanon. 77% of them had no official birth certificate. they are technically stateless at this point. these numbers are concerning because, as unhcr indicates, unregistered refugee children can face increased risk of exposure to violence, abuse and exploitation. the numbers may be low when you consider the universe of refugees, due in part to the barriers at birth registry that refugee families encounter at jordan and lebanon, including complex registration procedures. has the u.s. government taken any steps with unhcr, n.g.o.'s and