tv Key Capitol Hill Hearings CSPAN October 2, 2015 11:00pm-12:01am EDT
finish the gsp. do you remember his red book. we must be very careful before signing, because once that is signed, it's very difficult to touch. there are aspects as to the state as to protecting health. chapter 11 is a true challenge, and mr. trudeau said that he agreed with europe, with this nafta matter. it went to the house of champions. mr. harper has an agreement with europe, and there are aspects, like investments, for example, that concern us and concern other countries in europe. so even if he announced 12 times that he's going to make an agreement, there isn't one yet. we can't pretend that we are growing while we are slowing
down. i will never accept as the crucial environment or health or other matters to be nondefined, to international experts decide what i have the right to decide for the public. that's a basic canadian value. to keep the authority of the state, to take one's own decisions in the interest of the public. you know, mr. mulcair is trying to change the ndp to improve his image. the reality is that there are enormous difficulties to understand. we need free trade agreements to create a better future for our jobs and our economy. the ndp does not support any free-trade agreement that night have been signed in the last few years. oh, no, there is one. the one with jordan. that's the only one he accepted. the reality is that this is a
party that has never understood for canada, to have markets to be engaged with growing economies in asia. we must be, yes, the liberal party agrees very seriously in international agreements. we believe it's essential for economic growth, to give jobs to canadians, and that is why we agree with the canada/europe agreement. but mr. harper has not performed yet. we are not anywhere with china and australia. we're just at the beginning with india in spite of that that mr. harper tried to do with the prime minister and with the united states, we are not yet with international free trade, but yes, there is an issue there
which mr. mulcair was to enter into an exchange with the united states, that this bulk water exports. >> proposed that we export bulk water to the united states. you gave a speech on it. >> that's false. >> you compared it to forestry. >> that's false. >> mr. mulcair. are you willing to sell our water to the united states. >> an accusation's been made, we'd like you to respond. >> first of all with regard to trade deals, it was a trade deal with korea that was backed by the ndp. the important thing to look at is what we decided. i decided to shut the door. both water exports would have been a terrible idea. and we made sure that we shut the door and locked it tight. but there was a good public debate. mr. trudeau doesn't understand debates, because he's used to having people write his lines for him. with regard to korea, it is a
representation of what the ndp knows how to do. we are looking for an even playing field. we are looking for trade agreements with countries that share our values. whether it's the protection of the environment or the protection of workers' rights. this is an even playing field. this can be about reciprocity. but what we won't do as mr. harper's done is sign deals with honduras, so right after a coup, that's a country that doesn't respect workers' rights we're communicating that we find it okay. same thing with our trade deal with colombia. there are times when you have to stand up and say canadians expect you to respect our values. >> mr. mulcair and mr. harper. >> in the 21st century, the creation and retention of
good-paying jobs are going to depend on having trade access to the major economies of the world. we've been able to achieve with the republic of korea, we're working in the asia pacific region. every time we have done so in making sure we also protect our vital interesting, protect the interests of our automobile sector, advance the interests of canadian agriculture. look, there's always a reason to walk away from the table. there's always a reason to be against agreements. these parties oppose the original u.s./canada agreement. but the reality is we have been able to do these agreements. we will only sign a deal if it is in the interest of the canadian economy, but we're going to sit at the table and make sure we're there and advance and defend canadian interests. >> mr. harper talks about how many deals he's signed over the past years. but canada has the worse rate of export growth -- sorry, the
prime minister, this prime minister has the worst rate of export growth of any prime minister since world war ii. so if this is your best efforts, mr. harper, we have to worry about what will happen if you get reelected. because the fact of the matter is, canada needs to engage positively on the world stage, and our diplomacy, our cultural, changes, our engagement in humanitarian efforts all feed into how we're able to engage in the kinds of trade deals that are going to bring good jobs to canadia canadians. >> look, we're in a decade of global economic instability with increased exports 50%. we're not living in a different era. we're living in an era that's been very difficult. we need to continue that by
taking forward-looking actions. that includes the historic steps we've taken to conclude trade deals in this continent, to conclude trade dials in europe and also work to try and get trade deals in the asia pacific region, and you don't get those deals by coming up with a million reasons why you're against them before you even get to the table and why you should walk away once you're there. we're there. we've had a successful record of making sure we defend the broad interests of the canadian economy, open up our markets, and that is what we're going to continue to do. >> mr. harper. [ speaking in french ] >> i have been asked to ask you a question. it is the president of the union of agriculture. if you will defend, integrate wholly the system of management, supply management.
we have always defended supply mana management, and we defend the agriculture when they are outside of the system, and we defend all of the sectors, and the engagement is to conclude an agreement that is to the interest of the canadians. >> how we build a stronger and brighter future for us all the liberal party has put forward propositions, and you've heard about them on deficits to invest in our industry and infrastructure. but we understand that creating trade and good jobs is at the heart of what every good canadian prime minister needs to do. we are too big a country with too few people to be able to do it all on our own. we need trade with the u.s., with countries around the world to actually grow our ceconomy, o create good jobs for canadians, and the fact that mr. harper hasn't been able to get it done on the big file, and mr. mulcair
continues to obstruct and deny the importance of trade, the choice is clear to pick the liberal candidate. >> 99% of the free trade access has been from the liberal party. you don't have the vision, and you don't have the determine's as you sit at the table to make the tough decisions to get the deal. that's what we're doing >> very brief. [ applause ] >> finally objection by mr. mulcair. >> the question to ask is who do you want representing canada at the climate change conference in december. who do you want sitting across from angela merkle as we try to get a deal that suits all of our purposes. who represents canadian values on all of the issues we're discussing tonight? for 150 years we've been told we have no choice but to alternate 2009 the senate scandal in the conservatives and the liberals. this time there's a
forward-looking choice for kraend values. >> translator: thank you, mr. mulcair. ladies and gentlemen we have arrived to the end of our debate. [ applause ] >> all of us here hope that that debate has helped inform the vote that you the viewing audience, eaveryone here in thi auditorium will cast in three weeks time. let's be sure regardless of our view, the party, to head to the
polls to vote. for those of you watching online right now, our post-debate panel begin, coe hosted by facebook canada and the "global mail." >> translator: thank you for having followed us. >> bonsoir. >> translator: good evening. ♪ student cam is c-span's annual documentary for students in 6-12. it's an opportunity for students to think critically about issues of national importance by creating a documentary in which they can express those views. it's important for students to get involved because it gives them an opportunity and platform to have their voices heard on issues that are important to them. so they can express those views
by creating a documentary. we do get a wide range of entries. the most important aspect for every documentary that we get is going to be content. we have had winners in the past created by just using a cell phone. and we have others that are created using more high-tech equipment. but once again, it's really the content that matters and shines through in these documentaries. the response from students in the past has been great. we've had many different issues that they have created videos on there important to them. we have topics ranges from ed characteristic the economy and the environment, really showing the wide variety of issues that are important for students. >> having more water in the river would have many positive impacts to better serve the tulsa community and the businesses around it. >> we have definitely come to the consensus that humans cannot run wrought food. >> prior to the individuals with disabilities education act or the idea, children with disabilities were not given the opportunity of an education.
>> this year's theme is road to the white house. what's the most important issue you want the candidates to discuss in the 2016 presidential campaign. it is full-on into the campaign season. there are many different candidates, discussing severing different issues. one of the key elements in creating documentary is to include some c-span footage. this footage should compliment and further show the view. it's a way to include video that further shows their points. >> the first bill is the water, resources and development act. >> we've all heard the jokes about school meals and certainly growing up, the burnt fish sticks and mystery mate tacos. >> there's a vital role that the government plays. it's especially vital for students with disabilities. >> students and teachers can go to our website.
student cam.org. and on that website they will find more information about the rules and requirements, but they'll find teacher continues, rub rix and ways to contact us if they have any further questions. the deadline for this year's competition is january 2016. which is exactly one year away from the next presidential inauguration. next, a senate hearing on syrian refugee crisis. they discuss the impact refugees are having on host countries. russia's military presence in syria and the potential for a no-fly zone. this is just under two hours.
the former relations committee will come to order. i want to thank our witnesses for being here. nancy, as i understand it, is tied up in traffic and will be coming in a few moments, so we're going to go ahead and get started. we have a vote later. we want to make sure we get the full benefit of your testimony. i want to thank the members for being here. today's hearing is the second in a series of hearings examining the role of the united states in the middle east. this hearing will focus on the immense humanitarian crisis emanating from the region. the images of hundreds of thousands of men, women, and children fleeing for safety should challenge every moral fiber within us. these are people just like us oñ that want only to be able to raise their families in dignity and cherish the same values and things that we all care about, and yet we watch them on
television in these desperate circumstances. we all know that the scale of this tragedy, but it is worth, again, outlining the numbers. in syria, a country with population of 22 million in 2011, more than 4.1 million have fled the country and more than 7.6 million are displaced inside the country, so half of syria's population is not at home, not living in their hometowns, but in some other place. some estimates put the number of deaths in syria over 300,000. the assad regime responsible for over 100,000 civilian deaths. let me say that one more time. the assad regime responsible for more than 100,000 civilian deaths.
in iraq, 8.6 million are in need of humanitarian the assistance 3.2 million displaced. solutions must address while people are fleeing. i look forward to hearing the views of our witnesses today, but i believe after four years of war there is a perception that there is no light at the end of the tunnel. as assad continues to barrel bomb his own people, the russians and iranians continue to ensure that he has the means to do it. more than one year after establishing a global coalition to counter isis, we learned that the main beneficiary iraq has allowed iran, russia, and syria to establish their own coalition within a cell in baghdad. it appears that our administration is seriously debating some type of an accommodation with the russians in order to fight isis. it's difficult to understand how working alongside the backers of
assad could in any way stem the flow of refugees that are fleeing the barrel bombs. it is important to remember that the war in syria began with assad and he's still doing the same things today on a daily basis that he was doing at the time. i do want to digress and say that i know david miliband took a very opposing view to most of the labor party when he at one time served in the parliament and felt that interaction inside syria should be taking place by great britain. many of us felt the same way. and as crass as i may sound, i think all of us, all of us, today as we watch what is on television and see these refugees in the circumstances they're in, all of us are reaping what we've sowed. we didn't get involved at a time
when we could have made a difference. i hope our witnesses can help us understand the scale and effect the humanitarian crisis the united states and others should be taking to mitigate it, but i would like to again stress we cannot simply rely on humanitarianism alone in this crisis and that is incumbent upon us to work towards realistic policies that would bring back the hope of a normal life to those in need. thank you again for appearing before our committee, and i look forward to your testimony. with that, i'd like to turn to our distinguished ranking member. >> well, mr. chairman, first let me thank you for convening this hearing. you and i talked awhile back as to what we can do. this committee works in a bipartisan way in order to advance our foreign policy objectives, and i congratulate the chairman for his leadership in that regard. we talked what we can do in regards to the refugee crisis globally in recognizing that
syria is an immediate concern. it's a humanitarian crisis as well as a problem of conflict that needs a solution. it's complicated, of course, by isis presence in syria, so i want to thank you for the manner in which we were able to convene this hearing to see how the united states senate, the congress, can advance the goals of the united states in dealing with this international crisis and how we can take a look at our traditional tools and perhaps refine them. look at new ways we can energize the united states' involvement and the international community to deal with the humanitarian crisis, and i would agree with you. we also need to deal with the political underpinnings of why people have to flee their homes. for the first time since world war ii, almost 60 million people have been forced from their homes and displaced in their own
countries and are forced to flee abroad. we're seeing more conflicts that do not end and result in exponential increases in need. the magnitude in syria is most shocking. the situation is increasingly desperate for both the refugees and host countries like jordan, lebanon, turkey, and northern iraq because syrians are finding increasingly difficult to find safety. they are forced to move further afield. that's why so many are risking their lives to cross the mediterranean. there are 7.6 million internally displaced syrians suffering and into need of humanitarian assistance. more families are forced to send their children to work or marry off their young daughters. it is hard to comprehend the impact of millions of refugees on lebanon,
jordan, and turkey. the number of refugees in lebanon would be equivalent to the united states receiving 88 million new refugees. that's a shocking number for that country. turkey has already spent $6 billion in direct assistance to refugees in its care. that's a huge part of the turkish economy. at the same time, we in the west until very recently have been reluctant to admit even the most vulnerable syrian refugees. while contributing john wrus -- generously to humanitarian funding although the white house announced it would admit 10,000 syrians. we know that the syrian humanitarian disaster, which has destabilized an entire region, is not the accidental by-product of conflict. instead one result of the strategy pursued by the assad regime. the united nations commission on inquiry of syria has documented that the assad regime is using
barrel bombs, bombardment of homes, hospitals, and medical facilities to terrorize the civilian population. as millions of families are displaced multiple times and as the chairman pointed out with the casual numbers now approaching 300,000 syrians that have been killed, the number of people fleeing the country will only rise. mr. chairman, i agree with you. the ultimate solution here is for assad to leave. we know that we need to have -- and i believe he should leave for the hague and be held accountable for his war crimes. so we need to work on a political solution. i know the president is in new york today meeting with world leaders to talk about a political path forward, but in the meantime we do have the humanitarian crisis and there is no end in sight to people trying to flee, as you said. what everyone would want, a safe
environment for their families. syria's neighbor next door iraq, the people requiring assistance has grown to 8.2 million people. 3 million have been forced from their homes. half of the displaced are children. to the south, yemen is on the brink of humanitarian catastrophe. that country was vulnerable even before this convict. now civilians throughout the country are facing an alarming level of suffering and violence. an estimated 20 million people are afflicted by war and humanitarian assistance. 1.5 million people have been forced from their homes and are now living in public schools or other empty buildings along highways. the global refugee trends are indeed alarming. the international assistance being provided is not keeping up with the scale of the problem. the united nations has only been
able to raise 38% of the $7.4 billion it needs to care for the syrians. we need to ask ourselves hard questions about how we can increase the effectiveness of assistance. with many refugees displaced on average 17 years. let me underscore that point. our refugee program is aimed at looking at refugees as being a temporary and how do we get them back safely to their homes. that's what a refugee was always thought to be, but if you're in some other place for 17 years the chances of you going back to your native country is remote. in syria, some of the communities don't exist where the people have left, and many others have been transformed to a point it would not be safe any time in the future for syrians to return to their home environment. we need to rethink our refugee laws to recognize that a large number -- there's about 20 million refugees worldwide. a large number are not returning to their native countries. the united states needs to look at a refugee policy that is sensitive to the new norm, which
is a number much larger than the caps we have to deal with the realities that people need to find new homes for their families. i believe strongly we need to use the humanitarian dollars more skillfully so we can provide solutions. in closing, we must recognize as that has conflicts proliferate, no corner of the world will remain unafflicted. we mufs must recommit ourselves to work harder and smarter. as we seek to win the hearts and minds in this region, our effort to provide real tangible humanitarian assistance to people will be more effective than sending more military assistance or more weapons into a conflict where there's no pathway for success. our humanitarian engagement is a moral and political necessity.
>> thank you very much. thanks for a lifetime of effort ensuring people have appropriate human rights. >> can i had one thing, if i like, mr. chairman? our chairman who is always even tempered and in a good mood is particularly proud today. he became a grandfather for the first time. i know our committee offers their congratulations. [ applause ] >> thank you. no doubt an incredible experience. the only wish people were talking about today have similar experiences. so thank you again for your comments. our first witness is the honorable david miliband, president and ceo of the national rescue committee.
he had a distinction wished career in the u.k. he served as foreign secretary. thank you for being here. our second witness today is michelle gabaudan. thank you for being here, sir. president of refugees international. michelle spent more than 25 years at u.n. hcr. our third witness that we'll hear from today is ms. nancy lindborg, president of the united states institute of peace, someone who we also have seen many times and thank her. nancy has served as president of mercy corps. thank you for that service. thank you all for being here. i know you've been here many times. if you could each spend five minutes giving your positions, we'll obviously, without objection, your written testimony will become a part of the record. if you can go down the line and give your testimony, we appreciate it. we look forward to your questions and certainly your comments. thank you. [ inaudible ].
>> the humanitarian situation in the middle east. >> hold on, sir. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i think you probably heard, but i want to say thank you and i'm honored to be here. i want to congratulate you on not just holding a hearing on the humanitarian situation in the middle east, but recognizing the lengths between the humanitarian situation and the geopolitical situation. my organization has a unique perspective on the crisis because we're working in the conflict zones of syria, iraq, and yemen. we're in the neighboring states that you referred to both. we're in greece where half of the refugees arriving in europe are landing on europe soil and we're active in the united states. resettling 10,000 refugees in 26 states in this country every
year. the conflicts in the middle east present the most challenging, dangerous, and complex humanitarian challenge in the world today. and i think they present a pre-emminent moral case for renewed engagement. i want to confine my remarks to four areas that more or less follow my written testimony and focus less on our analysis of the situation but what might be done. first, inside syria there is a war without law and there is misery without aid for the millions of people you referred to, senator. it's driving people to risk life and limb to get to europe, and almost worse than the numbers you recited is that there's no structured political process at the moment to offer hope of an end to the war. the number one priority that we would present to the committee is to turn or help turn the
words of u.n. resolutions, which are good words into actions. supported by all members of the security council into action. we advocate as a practical measure the appointment of humanitarian envoys, distinguished political or diplomatic figures that are able to work on the ground on the local access that is so essential to helping the humanitarian aid reach where it's needed. the neighboring states are coping with unprecedented numbers of refugees. it's worth noting a world food program voucher is worth $13 a month for a middle-class family in lebanon or jordan that's fled its home in syria. for us, the priority must be for these neighboring states a multiyear strategic package that recognizes that these people are not going home soon.
these refugees are not going home soon. in written testimony, we compared the packages needed to the martial plan, a multiyear plan which is not just an aid package, but aligns private sector effort with public sector effort and addresses the economic conditions people face, not just the social conditions. third, i'm just back from the island in greece where half of the refugees are arriving. i won't dwell on the responsibilities of european leaders and european citizens suffice to say they need to show both competence and compassion, both of which have been sorely lacking over the last few years. the three priorities in europe are first of all to establish safe and legal roots to become a refugee in europe. without those safe and legal routes, you empower the smugglers. who are currently charging 1200 euros. secondly, to improve reception conditions notably in greece and on the roots into northern and western europe. thirdly, to implement a robust
program in europe. to share the refugees between the different european states. finally, it is worth pointing out that european aid for the neighboring states does exceed american humanitarian aid. was announced last week that european lead, so to speak, which is $200 million, will stretch to $1.2 billion. finally, there is an important symbolic role for the united states in resettling refugees. ioc has been doing this for 80 years since albert einstein came to new york to found the organization in 1893. so far just over 1800 syrians have been admitted and with the greatest respect, the respect of someone who is a visitor to your country, even though i work here now, this 1800 figure is not fitting for the global leadership role the united states has played over a very long period in refugee resettlement. the administration's commitment to take 10,000 citizens is a
limited contribution to the global effort. we recommend three steps. we want to raise the ceiling for the number of syrians allowed in. i hope we get to explain why the figure of 100,000 has been reached to be admitted over the next year and how that speaks to the global need. secondly, to fund that drive properly, including in the department of homeland security where we strongly support effective security screening and can speak to that. thirdly is this scope for expanding access through family reunification schemes for syrian american communities who are in this country across the country and have grandparents, cousins, relatives in syria who want to come and join them. this is a dna-based family reunification scheme that could offer a practical and short-term way of circumventing delays that have plagued the problem.
i very much look forward to a real dialogue. thank you very much. >> thank you. >> mr. chairman, ranking member cardin, and distinguished members of the community, thank you very much for holding this hearing. and we certainly subscribe to the way you have framed the question of the syrian crisis. the chaos and distress and drama we have seen over the screen the last few months, reflect -- over the past year, despite the tremendous amounts of funding that have been provided. i want to thank the u.s. for being a leader in humanitarian funding to the syrian crisis and certainly congress for having made the right appropriations. we have undertaken 12 missions
in the last three years. in all the countries holding syrian refugees and ones inside syria. we have looked at how displacement has evolved, how the situation of refugees has changed over time, and importantly how the funding has been drying up. the drivers of displacement are multiple from the actions of the shia militias at the beginning to the development of a tremendous military operations by the assad regime to the rise of extremist groups, but also to the tremendous deteriorating social economic situation in syria, which makes life unsustainable for people who would cross outside to find some ways to sustain themselves. however, when you talk to refugees in southern turkey, in jordan, on what is the primary reason why they move, they all have the same answers. it is the barrel bombings over markets, over schools, over medical facilities. ngo has reported the month of august saw the largest number of
medical personnel killed by these shellings and barrel bombs. the response to the crisis in neighboring countries has been i must say remarkable. we've seen very few crises in the world where borders have remained open to long, where governments have accepted the refugees spread out amongst the population. there are very few refugees in camps. most refugees are living in an urban setting mixing with the local population. services have been accessible to refugees. national services, medical and school have been accessible to refugees. quite remarkably, in all the interviews we had with refugees, there is a rather low reporting of abuses by authorities. this is not something we experience in my places where refugees seem to be targeted much more than we have seen. we all have to recognize turkey, lebanon, has done tremendous work in welcoming refugees.
the international response has adjusted to the urban nature of the refugee situation. however, that urban nature creates some particular challenges because the impact of refugees on host communities is much stronger than when you have refugee camps, which are easier to manage. we're seeing now there's some erosion of the tolerance of local population when they see the schools overburdened, access to medical facilities dependent on very long queues, the rise in price of apartments or wherever they live going up and the price of basic food commodities going up, so there is an impact on the local population that after four years starts to generate reaction of rejection or tension with the refugee community. the humanitarian needs remain because many refugees are poor. what we have seen over time is refugees being pushed from
poverty to misery. more begging is happening from istanbul. there are children working because their parents are not allowed to work. they do send their children to work. it's easier for children to work illegally than adults. we have seen the lowering of early age for marriage for women. we have seen an increase in what we call sex for food in basically the trading of the young ladies to just be able to feed their family. all these are trappings of the popularization of the refugee population. there were not many indications that people wanted to move until the end of 2013. when we talked to people in the first years, they say we go back to syria as soon as we can. it's only at the end of 2013 that the mood started changing. in 2014, they moved through egypt and libya trying to get
these smugglers' boats to italy. the numbers remain sort of tolerable, perhaps, compared to what we have seen in 2015 where smugglers moved their routes through greece. the poverty they have suffered as their own resources were depleted over time certainly a main factor. for many people, the lack of education for children is also a motive for trying to move forward to europe. but also as i mentioned, the fact that they're welcome is drying up. governments now realize that they have a huge amount of people that are getting poorer and poorer and being like a lead bull on their own developments. and local populations are starting to react. we had riots in different countries against the refugees.
that outflow will not stop because either the europeans get their act together, which we hope they will, or it stays as it is now. we have seen the difficulties they have faced to date have not really staunched the flow. unless we go back to the root causes, which is how we address the situation of refugees, i think the region's stability will keep on. we have to look at increasing support to humanitarian funds. it is true that funds have been available over the years in larger quantities, but they have not kept up with the needs. what we have seen is the proportion of u.n.-funds programs has been cut down. food rations have been cut in half in the last few months. we look forward to u.s. leadership in this field. but we need to activate a much
stronger response to the development needs of neighboring countries. most of the challenges they face are -- cannot be dealt by humanitarian agencies. they need development money. they need bilateral aid where the key drivers of development are the development banks. the high commission has done due diligence in trying to approach the banks, but i think it's time to look at ways for the governing bodies of these banks to put this sort of situation as part of their regular mandate. it's not just a question of humanitarian response. it's a question of guaranteeing the stability of neighboring countries to syria. i think this is why we see these host countries becoming extremely nervous. however, even with the highest number we can dream of, it's going to touch a small percentage of the refugees. and it cannot leave us
neglecting the needs of development in our humanitarian aid. finally, mr. chairman, we hear there are some attempts to reinvigorate the peace process. we have always believed there was no real military solution to the conflict. i think it is very important that the people who come to the development negotiating table must make a much stronger commitment to protection of civilians and we must stop seeing the barrel bombing of civilians. if this does not happen, we will not see at any time any possibility of return. >> thank you very much. ms. lindborg. >> thank you. good morning. thank you, chairman corker, ranking member cardin, and members of the committee. i know a number of you have traveled to the region, and i greatly appreciate your attention and focus on this humanitarian crisis. i testify before you today as president of the united states
institute of peace, which was founded by congress 30 years ago specifically to look at how to prevent, how to mitigate and recover from violent conflict. and we do so by working in conflict zones around the world with practical solutions, research, and training. there's a deep connection between what we're seeing right now in the humanitarian crisis and conflict that has spun out of control and become very, very violent throughout the region. i agree wholeheartedly with both of my colleagues. both of you, i think, have aptly described what is a starkly terrible crisis, numbing statistics, and heartbreaking stories through the region, so let me use my time to look at four recommendations i would make as we look forward. and most importantly even as we seek solutions for the crisis in europe and the resettlement that michelle and david have talked
about, i urge that we use this moment to expand our commitment to providing assistance in the region and look at solutions ultimately in the region, because even if europe and the u.s. take the most generous number of refugees possible, that will only scratch the surface of this crisis. so first of all, we absolutely must sustain and increase our collective commitments to meeting the most immediate needs. as we've heard, the number of commitments have decreased against the needs. thank you to all of you for having supported a very generous u.s. commitment. about $4.5 billion to date since the syrian crisis, but this is against a global backdrop of 60 million people currently forcibly displaced from their homes. there is a global burden that is stretching the humanitarian system, straining it to its
limits, and we need to ensure that not only does the u.s. continue its commitment but that we get a larger collection of countries to help shoulder that burden. it consistently falls on a small number of countries. we need to expand the number of people -- the number of countries that are providing assistance. secondly, we also need to ensure that that assistance is as effective and as efficient as possible. we have seen, as senator cardin noted, we continue to treat the problem as if the refugees will go home when there's a 17-year average rate of displacement. we are often constrained by our institutional mandates, and the stovepiping from doing the kind of assistance that enables refugees not only to survive but
to look for some sort of sustainable future as well as providing support for the host communities who are heavily burdened by the huge numbers that are among us. i've recently returned from iraq where i met with a number of civil society organizations and kurdish officials in iraqi where one in five among them are now displaced. they have some 3 million displaced iraqis who fled isis over the last year, and despite a huge mobilization to provide assistance to these folks, their infrastructure simply can't cope. their water systems, electrical systems, schools, clinics, so you have people who are sitting in camps in containers in squatting apartments, studies interrupted, no way to make a living, and they don't see a future for themselves. a number of displaced iraqis,
they want to go to europe because they do not see a future for themselves. as one civil society activist told me, we have seven camps. inner, in erbil. that's seven time bombs. this is something we need to look seriously at, and it is far worse as you move into lebanon and jordan and turkey in terms of the burden, the stretch on their infrastructure. so our assistance needs to focus more on education, on employment, on the kind of trauma counseling that can help people recover and on helping the communities bear the burden more effectively as we ask them to continue hosting. thirdly, we can start now to help people return. in certain places in iraq there are opportunities to return, but we need to ensure we're helping communities deal with what could
become cycles of conflict because of the mistrust that now exists between communities in the wake of isis. and so by working with communities to have the kind of facilitated dialogue that builds bridges, reduces tensions, and builds social cohesion, we bring people a better opportunity to return home without repeated cycles of conflict. then finally in addition to pushing hard on the kind of diplomatic solutions that get at the roots of the conflict in syria, i would also urge us to look more broadly at how to increase our efforts to provide the kind of development assistance that focuses on those places that are most fragile whether they're weak, ineffective, or illegitimate in the eyes of their citizens that are the source of the flow of refugees, not just syria and iraq, but afghanistan, yemen, somalia, places where you have a web of hopeless born of conflict, oppression, and
poverty. and by focussing more on those areas, we have a better chance of managing conflict. at usip, we say conflict is inevitable. how do you manage it? so that it doesn't become violent. it doesn't end up pushing people out of their homes and into the kind of crises that we see today. i look forward to your questions. thank you. >> thank you all very much for not only what you do, but for being here today. senator cardin has a conflict, so i'm going to let him ask questions first. >> the conflicts are all over. not just the -- >> as long as you manage them. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i appreciate the courtesy. let me thank all of our witnesses not only for being here and what you do to help in regards to this humanitarian international challenge. u.s. leadership is so desperately needed in multiple strategies. yes, in the geopolitical landscape to deal resolving
these conflicts so people can live safely in their homes. that's obviously where the united states must put a great deal of attention. as has already been pointed out, a lot of these refugees are going to be in border countries for a long time, and the cost is tremendous not only the dollar cost, but as it effects the stability in that country. and there are an international responsibilities. and united states must be in the leadership. we are significantly below what the united nations indicates it needs on the dollars. lastly, the resettlements. i just want to talk a moment about that because for 20 million refugees, we know 4 million are from syria. most of these refugees are not returning home anytime soon. some are not going to be able to return home, and our refugee policy numbers caps were based upon the philosophy that
refugees would be returning to their host countries. that's not the real world today, so for the united states to have a cap at 75,000 or 85,000 or 100,000 recognizing there are 20 million refugees worldwide, many of those are not going to be able to return safely to their homes, many of whom want to resettle in a place where they can have a future for their family that lived 17 years as a refugee on average. does not give you a future for your family. i guess my first question, should we be reevaluating not just the united states, but also europe, i understand, is changing their numbers on resettlements, but should we be looking at the 20 million differently and determine how many of these individuals need permanent placements, particularly those who are recent and don't have roots in the border country but want to
reestablish roots for their families? should we be looking at these numbers more realistically today? >> let me say three things in response to what i think is an excellent question. what we all face is these 20 million refugees and 40 million internally displaced people. the central question is is this a trend or is it a blip. those numbers were a world record last year. more than any time since world war ii. my thesis to you is this is a trend and not a blip. your question is right. i think three things are important. refugee resettlement is important for the substantive help it offers to the 100,000 people that you mentioned, but it's also a symbolic value of standing with the countries that are bearing the greatest burden. no one can pretend that refugee resettlement is going to quote/unquote solve the problem.
it's a symbolic as well as a substantive show of solidarity. the vast majority of refugees live in poor countries neighboring those in conflict. at the syria case is a prototype. local integration is going to be the solution either because we acknowledge it or embrace it or it happens de facto. i think what michelle gabaudan was saying is we have to embrace this point that there are going to be the majority of refugees in neighboring states. do they become economic contributors or are they an economic drain? the world bank isn't allowed to work in lebanon and jordan because they're considered middle income countries. it has to be a central part of the world bank's modus operandi that fragile states where the extreme poor now live -- it's
got to be a central part of the philosophy of the world bank that fragile states are its business. that its got to be a point of reflection for the ngo and humanitarian movement. economic interventions need to sit alongside the traditional social interventions we've done. the third and final point is that already in the course of the 45 minutes we've been together it's evident that the words humanitarian and the words development don't do justice to the policy problems that are faced here. i would submit to you that the budget headings don't do justice. and the institutions we've got, some of them working on humanitarian crises and some on development, that separation doesn't do justice.
just to give you a figure. in the 20 crises last year, 28 billion was spent on development interventions. now the truth is they have to work together, and that is a major challenge to the international system, which i think it will be tremendously positive if the committee was able to engage with them. >> let me change gears for one moment. the united nations estimates there are over 400,000 people inside of syria that are besieged, that cannot be reached as far as humanitarian help. they're saying there's another 4.8 that are hard to reach. do we have a strategy for dealing with that vulnerable population that we cannot effectively establish through conventional means, help who are displaced within syria? >> well, the u.s. government was the leader in providing assistance that was going across borders, across the turkish and
jordanian borders to reach those who could not be reached through the u.n.-damascus-based efforts. many courageous ngos were a part of that. that has been curtailed by the incursion of isis into some of those areas. although the work continues and there continues to be an extraordinarily courageous efforts to reach those folks, the barrel bombs are equally a problem, as my colleagues have noted. and despite the provision of a u.n. security resolution that david mentioned, there is not a serious effort to provide civilian protection. so as we look at resolving this conflict, civilian protection has got to be chief among the goals that we collectively put in front of the international community. in the absence of that, people are just being pummelled by both sides. by assad's people and by isil, and that further curtails ability to reach them with
assistance and if you did, they are threatened with death. >> the short answer to your question is no, there isn't a good strategy for reaching these besieged areas. those people are in a worse position today than when the u.n. security council resolutions were passed. our proposal for the humanitarian envoys who will be on the ground who will be there to name, shame, organize the delivery of the aid is one idea to try to break this terrible deadlock that was at one moment once a month. the u.n. secretary general reports that medical aid is being taken off lorries and dumped and there is no accountability for that kind of abuse of basic morality, never mind in international humanitarian law. i think your focus on this and your demand, or the implicit demand, this has to be at the absolute center of any approach to the humanitarian approach in syria is absolutely right. >> there's no question that
these vulnerables that we cannot reach or are hard to reach are going to add to the numbers of casualties and the number of people trying to exit syria for a better life. it is going to add to the number of refugees. it's going to add to all the numbers we're talking about. it's just a matter of how quickly they can find a safe place or exit for their families or they become casualties of the war. >> thank you. thank you very much. dr. gabaudan, i think people in our nation get confused. we allow about 70,000 refugees into our country right now each year, and i know the administration has talked about raising that to 85 and then to 100 over the next couple of years. there have been statements of adding 100,000 syrians into our country immediately not by the administration, but by others who are advocating for that. i know we have the chairman of the homeland security committee
here, but is there a way to actually screen and deal with that or is that a number that's not realistic relative to our ability to screen those coming? >> senator, in terms of the capacity, the u.s. has shown in the past it can admit large numbers. this country. there is a question of resources, of course. i think that the u.s. system has the most serious vetting system in the world. if you look at what other countries that resettle refugees, they don't come half the way the u.s. does in vetting the people in which it meets. the u.s. resettlement program has a tremendous quality, which is it chooses people on the