tv Key Capitol Hill Hearings CSPAN October 20, 2015 9:00pm-11:01pm EDT
takes to bring refugees without cutting corners on security. >> can you respond on the 41% of funding that's actually been produced for humanitarian efforts? and if you could also speak to some of our allies in the middle east, in arab countries and their commitment to help with the refugees. >> so even though we're providing sort of what i see as the foundation of the humanitarian assistance that goes to the most effective operational organizations overseas, and we get very solid support, bipartisan support from the house and senate. it's not enough funding. we need other countries to provide assistance and do more. first the traditional donors may
have been suffering from fatigue. i felt in the last year or two that their contributions while increasing were not keeping pace with the needed increases. certainly europe now is very focused on needing to provide more assistance to help the refugees who are in the middle east and are displaced inside syria and also refugees in the surrounding neighboring countries. then for a couple of years now we have been trying to encourage gulf states to become routine regular donors to and through united nations appeals. and i would say we've had mixed success on this. we have seen some very large generous contributions but they tend to be one-time only checks written. they're not always through the u.n. they're nothing you can count on will happen again the follow year. we're very appreciative that
kuwait held three annual pledging conferences on the syria crisis, and i attended all of them. that did help to put, you know, real money on the table. and the u.s. and kuwait were the top donors in response to those pledging conferences. but it's not enough. and what we'd like to see is some more kbufl states become regular annual donors in a dependable way with the united nations. and then, you know, we look at the u.s. and the uk as, and france as part of the permanent five members of the u.n. security council. but russia and china are also members. and we don't see them being engaged on humanitarian activities the way that the other members are. so we would like to see more countries involved joining the table of traditional donors, expand that.
then we also are very interested in getting more private sector contributions from philanthropies and businesses and from the public. so for me it's been very gratifying that in recent weeks we have seen that happen. and we've gone from, you know, wondering how to make that happen to seeing it really happen. so now the question is how can we make this is sustaining interest. americans can be generous but prefer to give after natural disasters. like the earthquake in haiti, i believe half of american households were reported to give. it's a sense that the situation in the middle east is messy and there's a lot of bad guys running around and we don't want to do anything to support them. but i know there are a lot of nth families being victimized by terrorists who deserve help. i think when americans see the
faces of the families they realize these are people we have to help, we must help, we feel compelled to help. i would like to build on the generosity we've seen in the recent weeks. this is not the responsibility of the u.s. government to do that but to encourage it certainly and see more giving from more private sector and more members of the public. >> thank you mr. chairman. i have other questions but i'll reserve them for the next panel. >> dr. burgess. >> thank you mr. chairman and thank you madam secretary for being here today. you said in your opening statement that one of the driver of the flood of refugee to europe was the perception that europe was open. can you expand upon that a little bit? what gave people that impression? >> i think that, you know, the fact that early waves were getting all the way to jeremy and being received in germany and may have through social
media and plain old media suggested to people this was the time to go and that they would be able to make it all of the way. it's probably a question best answered by europeans. but without knowing all of the -- without being an expert on the specific details, i think that was part of what was happening. >> you mentioned social media and that was what i was going to get to, was social media one of the drivers that led to this in. >> i've been told that you can get a lot of information about how to make the voyage and the journey off of the web and off of one's phone. >> i would expect that that's probably true. as far as the 1700 individuals that were approved in this last fiscal year, fiscal year 2016 -- >> they arrived. >> they arrived. and those were all -- those all
went through the dhs vetting process in. >> yes. >> and of that 1700 how many were not approved and what then happened to them? >> no. the 1700 were the number that were approved. i don't have the numbers that were disapproved or rejected to come. we can try to get that for you. >> and then the numbers are going to go up so there is going to be a scaling issue with department of homeland security being able to keep up with the numb numbers that you're asking them to vet sb is that correct? >> that is correct. >> what will the discussions you've had with the secretary of homeland security or that secretary kerry has had with the secretary of homeland security about what you're doing in your agency and what they might expect in their agency? >> we have had a series for a couple of years now of inner agency meeting that the nhc pulled together and deputies
committee meetings and even a principles committee meeting or two. different levels of the executive branch that bring together the state department, health and human services because they provide assistance to the state -- >> i have some questions i want to ask you about that. go on. >> dhs and some of the other law enforcement national security agencies to make sure all of these pieces are working together. and there is a lot of pressure now for dhs to get more interviewers hired, trained and out to the field so that they can support bringing higher numbers of refugees. all around the world, not just in the middle east. certainly in texas last summer, july of 2014, we saw some of the deficiencies of the office of refugee relocation through the department of health and human services who were responsible for handling, processing and handling the
unaccompanied minors as they came through. and it seemed like they were pretty much at or beyond their limit. are you talking with your counter parts in the department of health and human services about additional stresses that may be placed on their system because of the numbers that you're bringing, proposing to bring in? >> so, all of the agencies, all three of the agencies that play the biggest roles in this have to make tradeoffs in terms of their budgets, about what they're going to fund related to this program. so for the state department the question is how much of our funding goes to overseas assistance to help people who are either displaced in their own countries or refugees nearby, and how much do we then spend to bring refugee to the united states. and right now we're spending about $400 million of our budget for that. most of our funding goes overseas but sit sizable. then for dhs the question was,
do they use their staff to help asylum applicants in the united states or do they send them overseas to do these interviews. and they were sort of -- the two missions were competing against each other to a certain extent over the past year. hiring more interviewers will help address that issue. then the office of refugee resettlement in hhs has a couple of different responsibilities. and as you rightly point out, one of it is to help unaccompanied minor children arriving in the united states, such as happened last summer and has happened sense, but peaked last summer at the u.s.-mexico border. so they're responsible for the unaccompanied minor children but they also are responsible for providing assistance through the states to help refugees beyond
that initial three months reception and placement piece that the state department funds for special programs either to help people who need a little longer time getting a job or with english language classes or other special programs. so all of these things cost money, and right now the amendment is looking, working with onb to determine if we need to be requesting increases in our budgets to handle these things. but i think your question is right on target in terms of where we need to be doing more work in providing answers to. >> well, of course it's not your argument but orr specifically in my opinion needs to work for closely with the states that are going to be affected by the people who are then resettled in those communities. there are stresses placed upon our local governments, our school dribltistricts because o numbers of people that are
resettled in those communities. >> i think that is my responsibility. >> i had this discussion with secretary nuland a year and a half ago. yes, i think it would be good if state would talk to perhaps senators or even individual members of congress, a lot of people who are being reset md within their district boundaries or their state boundaries. that would be extremely helpful. my personal experience is that has not happened. i've not been as effective as other congressmen or senators. it's something that does occur, something you hear about from your local folks all of the time. >> it's a requirement of the program and we've made it more specific, what has to be done. that the nine groups that resettle refugees in the united states with us, not for profit, six are faith based, three are not, that they consult with community leaders about their plans for resettling refugees. so that the local sheriff and
the mayor and the school superintendent are not surprised when people are showing up in their villages, their homes and their cities. i recently at the end of august traveled to spartanburg, south carolina because congressman trey gowdy had questions about whether specific consultation was done. i went down and traveled with his staff and met with a lot of local leaders there. so i see this as part of our job to make sure that this happens. i'm sorry, i can't get to better know a district in all 435. but we are making -- >> you know where the people are going. it's not a surprise to you. >> 7,479 refugees went to texas last year. i'm sure a lot of refugees would like to live in texas. so what we're doing is we're making sure that it's a requirement of our partners that do the actual reception and placement that they check with local leaders and they do it four times a year. >> perhaps if you could provide
me some of that data that's been generated by that requirement and divulging that information just before. and i'm going to conclude. chairman smith made the observation about the number of refugees that were young males, chairman pitts asked you a similar sort of question. really give us some comfort here. when you lk at those pictures and they do seem to be predominantly military age males with little women and children scattered throughout. i think chairman pitts had some statistics. why is that? are these young men fleeing conscription? is that perhaps a darker preface afoot. why does it appear that way? >> i think for young men coming directly out of syria, part of it is they are trying to avoid
serve in the assad regime's military and they do not want to be part of his war effort and they are people who prefer to live in peace and want a normal life. for those fleeing from nearby countries, not fleeing but leaving, it's partly because they don't have jobs that are legal jobs. many are working but they're working in an underground economy where they can be exploited and abused and underpaid. that's not appreciated by their neighbors. they're looking for a place they can go to finish their education, some of them, or get their kids in school. a lot of children are out of school from the syrian refugee community. and they can, you know, practice their -- acquire skills or practice the professions that they've acquired. they're moving to europe because they think they'll have a better life in the places where they've been. >> i guess what i don't understand is why they're leaving and not giving preface
to their wives and mothers, girlfriends? >> i think they're leaving their families in places they believe are safe. those members of the family would not, inside syria, would not be recruited into the military. i'm amazed that nearly 7 million displaced syrians have stayed inside sere yo, though. part of that is because of programs to try to get as much aid into the country to benefit innocent people as possible. but for the people who are leaving from turkey and from jordan, they feel their families are safe. they have achieved safety but they're not able to afford to live there. i talked to a woman in germany who had left two daughters behind and gone on this dangerous trip on boat from turkey from greece with a five-year-old and i said, wasn't it dangerous? and he said yes. but she could not afford to live in turkey because the rents were
high. she felt the best thing for the family was to go ahead and then send for family members or send money back to the older daughters. i just think it's -- these are people who feel very desperate and are taking risks with their families. the kind of risks that we don't have to do on a normal day in the united states. it's not because they're a threat to the europeans. it's because they really are looking for opportunity and trying to be a sense that they can have hope for a better life. >> i pray that you're right. thank you, mr. chairman. you've been indulgent. i yield back. >> dr. boseman? >> thank you, plrmt chairman. thank you for being here. we appreciate your hard work. there's some confusion about what the gulf states are doing. can you elaborate on that, you
know, what they're doing in regard to the numbers that they're accepting as far as syrian refugees? >> they're not accepting syrian refugees. they are giving more visas to syrian to come work in their countries, which is helping some families get out of harm's way and to support themselves. >> so that's where the claim of saudi arabia that they've got a couple -- >> they have a lot of syrians living there who have working in jobs and have work visas. so that's a good thing for those families. if they lose their jobs, will they have to leave the country, that would be a question i would want to ask. but what we would like to see is more countries be open to resettling refugees the way we do. and right now the u.s. is the world leader in doing that. and traditionally canada, australia, u kx and new zealand are the other countries that take numbers of refugees,
sizable numbers of refugees. part of our mission is to encourage country to do more. some of their own publics are looking for that now or asking for that. and what europe is doing is looking into having that as part of a package of things they'll do to deal with the stream of people headed their way. >> what are the top three or four things that the europeans -- what are their top three or four problems that they've got as they manage the crisis? >> the biggest issues is that, you know, europe has a common border now, the eu does, but it's a very porous border in terms of italy, greece and the coastline. different countries have different ability to see cure their borders and to vet people coming across. and then there are different policies not only from country
to country but sometimes within a country for vetting refugees and determining who can stay. so i believe you're going to be hearing from, in the second panel, some european leaders. so it's probably best for them to describe that. but that's my thumbnail impression of what the problem is right now. >> you mentioned the borders. are there any other policies that you feel like are driving the ability to get into europe? does that make sense? any of the european policies perhaps driving -- >> it's not just a question of entering greece, it's also leaving turkey and the coast guard there. that's one of the things being discussed as part of the eu negotiations with turkey about what else can be done. >> kind of in line the congressman burgess, among those involved in the mixed migration crisis in europe, what percentage -- and again this
would pertain to us. what percentage seeking asylum are estimated to be migrants, the countries involved there as opposed to what percentage are estimated to be refugees and from which countries? >> i probably have this in this enormous book in front of me. the -- >> the scenario that you described earlier with people in regard to the young, the young man coming, you mentioned jobs, you know, things like that. so that would be more migrant than refugee. >> so if you look at these pie charts down here, the dark pink area are people who are considered refugees, recognizes refugees based on those come ppg and then the light are pink is those who have been determined to not qualify as a refugee. so it starts to give you a
picture of that -- on the western balkans route, certainly most are fleeing war, syrians, iraqis, afghans, or violence. air treeians are fleeing an oppressive government and forced conscription into their national service. for other parts of africa, it's less refugees and more economic migrants. but for nigerians, for example, some would be refugees if they're fleeing boko haram in northern nigeria. >> thank you, mr. chairman. >> commissioner haltry. >> thank you for being here today. just quickly, as far as i haven't heard you talk much about reaction of local
populations in europe and concern of how they're responding to this significant impact on their countries as far as political parties or some upheaval reacting to the changes that are coming to their countries because of this in certain regions, maybe having significant numbers of refugees there. what -- from the state department, what are you sensing there, what concern do you have and what can do to help maybe ease some of that fare or uncertainty or the process that they're working through there with this great influx of refugees. >> i think you see the european republicans respond in a number of way. some are quite welcoming to the refugees and some are not welcoming at all. and there is a lot of attention to the rise of parties that are xenophobic or anti-immigrant, anti-refugee in various
other agencies have been fabulous of helping that transition. but i do know -- thank you again for your work. i'm going to yield back. i know we've got another panel that we want to hear from as well. thank you very much. >> i'll ask a couple of follow-up questions and then we'll conclude, although we have another member who just joined us. let me just ask, how was the 10,000 number arrived at? why not 15,000, why not 20? why not five? was it scientifically arrived at? who calculated that number to get to 10,000? >> secondly, you know, eu ambassador david o'sullivan will be testifying shortly before this commission and lays out a number of things that the europeans have done and continue to do, dozens of initiatives including funding like us to unhcr and other initiatives. but he points oubt we've launched rescue operations and tripled our presence at sea, over 122,000 lives have been
saved. now my question is, the six fleet obviously is deployed, there's 26 countries of europe that are part of that effort, tritan, for example. are we corroborating with the rescue efforts at sea? what is our role there? and finally, mr. pitterman makes a good point. why now? why are people, you know, up leaving and coming to europe and potentially to the united states. he said they've lost hope in a political solution to the war. and after so many years in exile living conditions are deteriorated. but he said the trigger is the humanitarian funding shortfall, the wfp, the world food program's cut of 30% that's driven people to the point where they don't have food so they uproot and leave thaer meager existence there. do you agree with that
assessment? >> on the second question first, i do think that the cuts in the world food program, rations and the food vouchers did send a signal, not from the united states, but it was interpreted as a signal from the world that the international community was losing interest and things were going to get harder for refugees in these countries. so i think many of us feel if we could go back in time that there would have been much more investment in that. and like i say, the u.s. is the leading donor to the world food program. so this is not the fault of the united states but it is the fault of the collective international community that that was allowed to happen. was it the one single trigger, don't know. we've talked about push and pull factors but i think it was a factor definitely.
last december the u.n. high commissioner for refugees had a very interesting dialogue. he organizes sort of a more informal meeting every december on a concern, a protection concern. and this past year it was protection at sea. so i asked the u.s. coast guard to come along with us to that discussion in geneva which doesn't usually happen that we have a joint, our bureau with coast guard discussion. but i thought that they are so thoughtful in how they do things in the caribbean that it would be useful for them to be part of the discussion. and also there were members of the italian navy who also came. it was an unusual meeting where we had nongovernmental organizations, governments and then coast guards and navies present. i know that u.s. navy, u.s. coast guard make a priority of saving lives no matter who is
approaching their ship and who is in distress nearby. so i'm sure, without knowing the details of the six fleet plays a life saving role in the mediterranean. but i'm not the expert on how they're working with the european efforts. and so i'll leave that to the next panel. >> again, the 10,000 number, how was that arrived at? if you could get back to us on the six fleet, i think it would be very helpful to the commission to know. and i know they would never pass someone who is in distress. but are they working with these two european union efforts. >> on the 10,000 number, we were already planning to increase our numbers to between 5,000 to 8,000 and the president decided we'd bring a few more than that. that's how the 10,000 number was arrived at.
>> joined by commissioner cohen. >> thank you. fist i want to thank you for holding this hearing. it's such an important issue. and so important that america do what america has done so many times in the past to offer our shores as a place of refuge to people who have been endangered by political conditions in their countries. and i think back personally as a jewish american to the place when jews were not accepted in this country on ships in the '40s and maybe the '30s and i'm sure they met a disastrous outcome because we didn't open our shores at the time. we should learn from those mistakes and i believe we will. i hope that the president will allow for a parole relationship and bring in the refugees who have been cleared, who are not in any way because of the best that we can ascertain, a threat to our country but are in need
of refugee status. and i think it's part of our country's -- what makes our country great and what makes our country the greatest country on the et. as the pope reminded us, we were all immigrants. the only people who weren't immigrants were victims of one of the greatest slaughters ever, the american native, the american indians. as immigrants we need to remember, as the spoep told us, the golden rule, do unto others as you would have them do unto you. as i think about possibly my ancestors that would have been on those ships to st. louis that were not accepted. i think we need to be the great country we are and accept as many folks as we can and save them from the war in syria. the food program was cut back, as i understand it. was there any issue with funding for the food program? >> yes. the food for peace office at the u.s. agency for national development leads u.s.
government in relations with the world food program. the world food program is headed by an american from chicago and their headquarters is in rome. we have a close relationship with them because sometimes our budget is used when there are food pipeline breaks in terms of the food reaching refugees in hard to reach places, primarily in africa. so the u.s. is the top donor to the world food program year in and year out. it's something that we're proud of as americans that we don't want people going hungry. but other countries were not keeping up, keeping pace with their contributions as we were and it wasn't enough for the people running the program in the region to continue to provide benefits to as many refugees as they would have liked. so what they did was they targeted the most vulnerable neediest refugees and they cut back then both in the number of people they were reaching and
the value of the food vouchers they were giving them. and it may -- as we were just discussing, it may have been a trigger for people deciding to leave the region and trying to make it to europe. >> in which countries -- was the american -- our contribution remained constant is that correct?? or was there a cut in funding on our side? >> it's not a cut in funding on our side. because we're -- both humanitarian assistance that usaid gets have been well-funded by congress in the last several years. my messages today are thank you very much. because we have the world leader in providing the humanitarian assistance. right now we have $3 billion and u.s. asd has $3 million which make as $6 billion contribution which is sizable to needs around the world. the problem is the needs -- the
list of crises is growing. the old crises continue even as new ones erupt. we're praying that there will be peace in south sudan, potentially piece in yemen, places where there have been efforts to resolve conflicts have happened so that we can use our precious resources for these very, very challenging situations. >> were there other countries that cut back on their financial contribution? >> i don't have the details for you but my sense is they either cut back or weren't keeping pace with the growth which we were able to do thanks to congress. >> which countries were those in. >> we were talking before, there's a group of traditional donors, western europe, u.s., canada, korea, japan, australia and new deland. collectively we were unable to keep pace. but i think the u.s. did its share. then there's the gulf states where they are -- sometimes some of them are charitable, particularly charitable and
write big checks and sometimes not. they tend to give in very one-off situations. we would like to see more uniformed giving, routine giving from the gulf states. then there are other countries that do not make a habit of providing assistance through humanitarian assistance. they prefer to do other ways of engaging with the world. i mentioned china and russia before, two countries that are on the permanent five of the u.n. security council but they're not part of the traditional donors. >> it's probably an obvious answer but the democracy seem to do good in caring for other people and the dictatorships don't. so it kind of flows. they give to their own, they don't give to others either. >> it's called western donors. but now we see japan, korea -- korea has become a regular donor
and didn't used to be. at one point it was aid recipient. so i don't think it has to be a western enterprise. i think it can be much more sbshl naturalized. >> the western, europe, united states, canada, it's the democracies. that's a good thing. >> part of it may be the publics expect this from their governments in democracies and make it known that they want to see this happen. the gulf states can be very charitable. giving during ramadan especially goes up. it's a traditional practice in muslim societies. but it's just not something that can be part -- that right now is part of an annual contribution that can be relied on by u.n. leaders. >> maybe ramadan should be every day of the week like christmas. >> and christmas.
>> exactly. who are the people -- is chris a leader? who are the leaders in congress many. >> how many times do you think i've testified before you, mr. smith. he's very interested in our issues. so yeah, he's definitely a leader. i met senator boseman before and we had a talk about the syrian refugees. it was after you went to turkey. there's been a lot of visitors to turkey and jordan which i found very good in helping me plain to others about what is going on. senator shaheen just came back from greece. i haven't been to greece lately. i would like to go to greece. i get other country to go to. it really helps us when you all travel and go out and meet refugees. but one doesn't have to go overseas to meet refugees of course. there are a lot of refugee families in the united states what can talk about -- probably in the room behind me who can
talk about the experiences they've had and what their relatives are going through. >> thank you for your good work. >> thank you very much. i'd like to thank you, madam secretary for your extensive answers and for the work of prn on behalf of those who are suffering and look forward to seeing you again very soon. thank you. [ inaudible ] >> i appreciate that. i'd like to welcome our second panel. the commission is pleased to welcome shelly pitterman, the regional representative for the u.s. aid in caribbean. during his 30-year career, mr. pitterman served on the ground in sudan, guinea as well as the unhcr headquarters in geneva and washington. he worked with the palestinian
refugees in jordan. thanks for joining us, mr. pitterman. we'll hear from ambassador from the republican of serbia to the united states. the ambassador served as the ambassador to the u.s. since february of this year. he was a foreign policy adviser to the serbia prime minister. he currently holds the osce chairman for 2015. we'll hear from sean callahan, chief operating officer of catholic relief services. the official international humanitarian agency of the catholic community here in the united states, mr. callahan is responsible for overseas operations, u.s. operations and human resources and ensuring the fidelity to the mission to preserve and uphold human life. they've done a magnificent job. i've lost track of the number of
times i've been in the refugee camp and i saw the initials on a baseball camp. thank you for the work you've done. and lastly eu ambassador to the united states, david o'sullivan who is currently the senior representative of the european union in washington. prior to his current appointment he served as chief operating officer of the european expersonal action service. the diplomatic service where he assisted the representative for foreign affairs and ensuring the consistency and coordination of the eu's external policies, strategies, instruments, missions and 140 diplomatic delegations throughout the world. we deeply appreciate the appearance of ambassador o'sullivan here today as a gesture of friendship and cooperation with the european union. we recognize that does not hold for diplomatic relations.
ambassador o'sullivan, thank you for taking the time out, all of you for being here. like to begin now with mr. pitterman. >> thank you very, very much, mr. chairman. it's a great honor and privilege to be here. it's my first time since i took up my regional assignment in 2013. so much has already been said by you, mr. chairman, and others, been anne richard in relation to the current situation, the numbers, the reasons for flight and so on. so i will not repeat those remarks. and therefore try to keep it short. but i did want to nevertheless mention a few numbers that have not been stated and a couple of other themes that might also provoke some conversation. it's important, i think, to remember that now we have at more than 60 million refugees, forcibly displaced people around
the world. that translates to 42,500 people every day. there have been more than 15 new conflicts in the last five years and none of the old conflicts have been resolved. so we're also witnessing the low point in the numbers of people who are voluntarily returning to their countries. and so we are facing not only protracted situations and new emergencies, we're facing protracted emergencies. and the first and foremost on our agenda as the u.n. refugee agency is the mega crisis in syria and iraq. can which for the first time in years has now hit europe as the high commissioner said, the poor have come to the home of the rich. and the world has taken notice. more than 600,000, 643,000
people have arrived through greece and italy. the trends of the flow have changed over recent months from the central mediterranean to the eastern mediterranean and the movement that is very much on our television screens and newspapers, yesterday's images, i don't know if you saw them on the bbc at the border between serbia and croatia, i was shocked myself and i believe it's just unbelievable that that's happening these days, people in wheelchairs stuck in the mud in freezing rain temperatures. that having been said, it's clear that this is overwhelmingly a refugee movement. these are people who are forcibly displaced from their homes. 90% of the people who are arriving are coming from the ten top refugee producing countries in the world. syria first and foremost, as well as afghanistan, air tree
ya, iraq, nigeria, somalia and sudan. the conflict in syria has entered its fifth year. there's no end in site. as we spoke earlier, you made everyone to the lack of hope, to the desperation, to the increasing impoverished. even in the cold to cross to europe. like all other refugee movements, stemming the tied is not an effective policy objective. building barriers as we've seen in some european states are pushing back refugees as we've seen in other european states doesn't -- and elsewhere around the world simply doesn't work. to quote the high commissioner for refugees, those who believe that the easy solution is to close doors should forget about
it. when a door is closed, people will open a window. if the window is closed, people will dig a tunnel. if there's a basic need for survival, a basic need for protection, people will move, whatever obstacles are put in their way, those obstacles will only make their journeys more dramatic. we're seeing that in europe and in central america. that there is then a temptation, a need for refugees to resort to sma smugglers in order to find security and safety. what matters is the market of the flow, not stemming the tide. and in europe there's evidence that the flow has not been very well managed up until now. and there is a pressure by force of circumstance but also leadership in europe and in the european union to resolve that and to address the problem in a more unified and coherent way.
unhcr is active itself in trying to find a comprehensive solution. first by focusing on saving the lives of refugees and addressing humanitarian protection needs especially at the points of transit, first arrival and destination. we're working hard to as well strengthen protection systems for asylum procedures in europe but also in the eastern horn of africa from where some of the refugees are coming, as well as from north africa. and reinforcing the availability of protection and solutions in the regions where they first find security and safety. so we have been working to provide merge life saving assistance, strengthening first line reception, simping matters such as interpretation,
protection monitoring, advocacy, working with the civil society and focusing as well on unaccompanied and separated children of whom there are several thousand who have been registered to date. we think that the united states has a key leadership role to play, always has and hopefully always will, not only in terms of humanitarian funding, a subject which has already been discussed where we have the gaps and where we count on congress and the state department to provide support, but also in terms of humanitarian diplomacy and resettlement. most refugees want to return home. but because of the conflict wars and persecution, many refugees are unable to repay tree yat, they live in peril louse circumstances. so we identify those who require a resettlement solution for their own protection, as well as a strategic approach to burden sharing. according to unhcr current
assessments, 10% of syrian refugees, about 400,000 people will need resettlement over the coming years. we focused our resettlement efforts on identifying and referring the most vulnerable refugees in jordan, turkey, lebanon and iraq, as well as in egypt. we've referred 45,000 syrians for resettlement with 20,000 made to the united states. as you mentioned earlier, mr. chairman, we're quite encouraged that there is now an acceleration of the process of processing refugees for resettlement to the united states. one point that hasn't been mentioned before that i'd like to highlight now is that unhcr has been encouraging states to offer other legal avenues for access to safety and security, resettlement is one. but we see as well family
reunificati reunification, other types of humanitarian visas as an opportunity for syrians and other refugees, for that matter, to gain access rather than having to risk dangerous journeys in order to arrive in a secure place. this might also address the willingness of the community to receive their family members from places where -- to receive their family members from countries of asylum now. still resettlement will remain a solution for only a small percentage of the syrian refugees. and that's why there has to be a comprehensive international response to the syrian humanitarian crisis, one that includes robust humanitarian asips tans to syrian refugees and to the governments and communities where they're hosted in turkey, lebanon, jordan and iraq. this will have to be established
with development actors and with development budgets as well. as the high commissioner said in his closing remarks earlier this month, there is no way that global humanitarian budgets will be able to face the enormous challenges related to the dramatic growth of the humanitarian problem in the world. unhcr appeals to the united states to continue to exercise leadership in helping refugees in the host communities and asylum communities to recover and grow. because the u.s. government and the american people know better than most just how richly refugees and migrants can indeed contribute to the political, economic and cultural fabric of a nation. thank you very much, mr. chairman. >> thank you very much. ambassador?
thank you for the invitation to testify in front of you today. i would luke to thank few for organizing this important hearing -- >> could you bring the mic a little closer? we're having a hard time hearing. >> i would like to thank you for organizing this important hearing which highlighted the fact that the come flexty and magnitude of the problem makes it uncouple bent upon all of us to give serious attention to it.
> -- request for comprehensive solution to the burning issue. partial and limited steps are another solution. in the process of solving the problem, the support of all of the member states are the most important organizations including the osc is of parliament importance. the osc is missing the largest influx. this is a process with potentially serious implications and a cause of concern in regards to respect for human rights. international communities struggling to find responses, protection and human rights commitment, considerations, the
osc for its part reflects on the role it could play in supporting the shared interest of its participating states and med tear ran jane partners for cooperation. it is worth mentioning that the osc do not have a mandate to tackle the crisis directly. the organization is dealing with the security challenges which derived from the migrant crisis, human trafficking as well as border management. the responsibility for the commitments lies with the participating states. the osc is mandated for reminding us of our commitments
and asissing states in implementing them. as a result of the office of the coordinator for economic environmental activities has been tasked with assisting the implementation of osc commitments, particularly in the areas of comprehensive labor, migration management, gender aspect of the labor migration as well as data collection and har mo nigh zags. over the years the osc widened its mandate in the protection of human rights. the office of democratic institution promotes the development and implementation that respect the right of migrants with respect to the most vulnerable categories. in this context i would like to underline that during the negotiations on the osc budgets for 2015, serbia, as a presiding
country, supported the proposal by the u.s. to enhance active is in the field of human trafficking. field operations have also been increasingly involved in migrations related activities and projects. reflecting the diversity of arrangements with host countries and different political priorities and needs. and is trying to provide more active and complete approach to the osc in addressing them. in the light of this bleak situation and looming instability, it is paramount that all the mechanisms that we are -- that are designed and adopted by the participating states to oversee implementation commitments are strong and functioning.
this year serbia promoted a set of discussions on migration and human trafficking including the humanitarian contact group. in may, the transnational trafficking department, annual expert meeting, which focused on trafficking in human beings and migrations within the context of the fighting against organized crime. at the initiative of our presidency, a joint meeting of the secretary committee on the environment commitment committee and human dimension committee on migration was held in vienna on october the 6th. the osc country supports the united states to reach concrete ideas in terms of migration. crisis should be put into the context of the preparation for the upcoming mediterranean conference. as well as the osc counsel in belgrade.
for the forthcoming meeting in belgrade. as we start negotiating in the coming days, we intend to incorporate into the draft decisions as many concrete accommodations as possible. mr. chairman, allow me to point out that serbia is not dealing with this crisis only in the capacity of the osc country. the migrant wave from the conflict areas have not bypassed my country. serbia is not the final destination for most of the migrants and refugees. it has found itself at the very center of the migration route. and almost all migrants and refugees coming from syria, afghanistan, iraq and other unstable areas, have transported to the countries of western and northern europe. it is important to notice that a number of migrants were numbers rising since 2009 and thus this
is not a completely new problem. what is essentially new is in the past few months we are facing a dramatic increase in their numbers. from the beginning of this year, the republic of serbia has registered over 240,000 illegal migrants. with tendencies for these number to only increase. the numbers who enter our territory are being registered and provided accommodation and food and medical care. the way we have dealt with this migrant crisis. namely are approach and empathy. supported by eu member countries as well as the migrants themselves and my the arab countries. however, it is obvious that the burden we bear during this crisis is becoming increasingly difficult. specifically aside from the
financial costs of the current crisis, serbia is dealing with over 500,000 refugees and internally displaced persons from the former yugoslavia in the 1990s. in a nutshell, all of the experiences we had during this period have demonstrated the solution for this crisis cannot be based on partial and local steps such as closing borders or building fences. cooperation within the international community is a must. it is necessary to reach a comprehensive and sustainable solution as soon as possible at the eu level to include also transit countries of the western balkan route. we wish to be part of this solution. we are already -- we all take our share of responsibility. i can assure you that serbia will continue to be a credible eu partner and treat the migrants in a manner that is fully consistent with european and international standards. we are also committed to
participating in this. aside from greater solidarity, there should be an increased willingness for a political response to the roots of the crisis. that means more readiness to seek a comprehensive solution and for creating conditions for sustainable peace and development in the region affected by the crisis. the alternative is much worse. that could lead to further worsening of the situation. it could cause a humanitarian crisis with these consequences. at the end, i would like to emphasize serbia's already cooperated with the eu, the united states, neighboring countries, and the community community, including the peaceful solution of the lasting solution. thank you. i am looking forward to your questions. >> i'd like to yield the floor
to mr. callahan. >> chairman, esteemed members of the committee, thank you for calling this hearing together. particularly as it addresses the needs and safety and well being of hundreds of thousands of people. i am sean callahan, chief operating officer of catholic relief services, which is the official overseas relief and development agency of the catholic church of the united states. and we serve 100 million people annually in over 100 countries throughout the world. we are also a member of international, which is a network of 200 different country offices throughout the world and that is our natural partner network. i recently traveled to the balkans to witness first hand the response to the refugees that crs was doing there. crs is currently working with its partners in the most affected countries. in a region that historically had religious strife, we found a great vibrancy in interreligious work there.
catholic relief work with the muslim community to address the needs of the local -- of the local communities, as well as the migrants coming in. in addition to that, we're working very closely with the local governments and increasing that coordination as we move forward. i would also like to say we're also receiving not only great generosity from people within the united states, but also of islamic relief and the mormon church here to have an interfaith effort to, as far as the resources go, and this is supporting that effort in europe. so we're using private funding to assist these people. we've committed over 2 million in the coming year. also like to give a nod to the ambassador. as in serbia, we did notice first hand, as i was on the border, right on the border of serbia and croatia, where thousands of people had been this weekend, and we notice the outpouring of the serbian people. and frankly i think serbia could be an example in the way that many of the people there were coming together to assist the refugees. in some countries, it seems to
be pulling it apart. in serbia, it's actually pulling people together. i think we should highlight that great example of serbia and maybe see if we can duplicate that in other areas. who were the people who were coming and who were the people we're seeing? i think one of the examples was a young man named khalid who came with his wife and four children. who we saw on this no man's land border where many of the people rested. they rest between the border of serbia and croatia because they're afraid of being caught in one country or another. so they were in the no man's land there. their home had been bombed in aleppo. they were threatened in that community and had to leave. we asked how they got here. khalid said, i was swimming along the boat. it was a rubber boat and very slow so i could keep pace. rona is 2 1/2 years old. khalid's 8-year-old daughter said, my daddy is very strong.
when we went from syria to turkey, he walked over hills and mountains. most of the time he was carrying jude and rona in a backpack and sometimes he carried me. despite the generosity and hospitality of the governments of jordan, lebanon and turkey, the scale of the suffering and the need has outpaced their ability to respond to the refugee crisis both from syria and iraq. crs and our partners have assisted nearly 800,000 people and spent over $110 million in the last three years in response to this crisis. some addressing the crucial immediate needs of people. but also trying to provide livelihoods to people so they can eek out a life and so they don't have to migrate. although the holy father has called all of us to reach out to those people who do migrate, we are working very hard to work with the local countries and communities there to ensure that people don't have to migrate, that there is security and opportunity for them in these
countries. the conflict has entered a new phase. many have given up the idea of returning to syria anytime soon. but unless their children can go to school and parents can provide for their families in the refugee host communities, then local integration is unrealistic. many of the refugees in lebanon and jordan, particularly religious minorities, have not registered with the u.n., and many are living outside with local communities. and as the assistance contracts, they move on to other locations. there's been many questions on why young men, and as they're coming, and we found if a family member can find work, they will send back remittances. the rest of the family can remain in the region where the cultural and family ties and the cost of living make life easier. similarly, the cost of transporting a whole family, for many of these people at this time after four years of war is
too great for them to transport the whole family because many do have to pay traffickers to allow them to cross various borders. similarly, the issue you raised earlier, conscription is a big issue. those coming out of syria cannot come out legally out of syria, they have to sneak through the lines. they're either conscripted by the government or by a local rebel group. and so they sneak in and then try to get out of the local countries so they're not sent back. as global leaders in the international and humanitarian response, the u.s. and europe must heed pope francis's call and find new ways to alleviate the suffering and protect the vulnerable. we at catholic relief services and our partners give six different recommendations. the first recommendation, as the holy father has called, is let's work tirelessly to stop the conflict. stop the violence.
stop the arming of these different groups that are going there. but the governments should galvanize greater support for a regional strategy to support medium-term integration of humanitarian and development assistance to the refugee host communities. we need to help the refugees not just survive but thrive and integrate into the local communities. if we don't do that, then they will be on the move. we need to respond to the fluid situation in europe and we need to have bprm be able to be a little more flexible to support agile international nongovernmental organizations. because as we noticed, when i arrived in belgrade, there were many people filling parks in the center city. within the next week, they were bypassing belgrade and going right to shiad. it was fortunate that the international actors that were there could, within a moment's notice, ship their people to the border.
and the opportunity in serbia was ideal as the local population was providing assistance as well. we also would support the congress fund the assistance as it has for the last four years at current or beyond current levels. we do strongly support the senate emergency supplemental initiative to boost that effort and hope the house would agree. we want to redouble our efforts at protection. you brought this up, mr. chairman, particularly education for children. we find that it's crucially important for children to have education because it stops the abuse. you get to see the children. and we have found many of the children require help. we've got innovative ways of working with puppets and others that allow the children to express the horrors they've seen and it's allowed some of their parents to as well. they've all suffered great violence. we would also ask the administration, as senator
shaheen has said, to expedite and increase the number of refugees settled in the united states. will not see an opportunity in the future and they need to know their future in the short term. i thank you for hosting this hearing here and happy to answer any questions. >> thank you very much. now i'm pleased to welcome ambassador o'sullivan. >> mr. chairman, members of the commission, ladies and gentlemen, thank you for taking the initiative to organize this event. thank you for the strong commitment which members of the congress have shown. those here present and others who have traveled to the region. we're grateful for the interest you give to this very difficult issue. mr. chairman, it's already been a long afternoon. i've submitted a written statement. may i just make a few remarks so as not to take up too much time. as everyone has said, this is first and foremost a human tragedy. it is probably the worst humanitarian crisis in a generation.
it also is primarily a refugee crisis. this is extremely important in terms of the legal rights of the people involved. as assistant secretary richard said, we in europe don't have the luxury when people come knocking on the door seeking asylum of telling them to go away and let us think about it. they have to be received immediately. we have commitments which we take very seriously. which means they must be granted immediate possibilities of shelter, of care, and the possibility to make their case. we've been doing this for many, many years. it has worked extremely successfully. europe has been a major destination for asylum seekers. what has changed is the scale and the numbers. which have simply overwhelmed the system. i think to the extent there are deficiency, it is because of that. i would just like to remind people that i think there's been a great deal of compassion and humanity shown all across
europe. what the people of italy are doing, they've opened their towns, provided shelter and food. they've shown great generosity and compassion. islands like lisbos has seen 350,000 refugees transit. it's clearly unmanageable for these countries to face this kund kind of crisis. we acted immediately to try to step the situation in the mediterranean with the forces you mentioned. the search and rescue operation and an anti-smuggler operation designed to break the business model of the smugglers. this has to a certain extent stabilized the situation in the mediterranean. it has immediately created a free flow through the western balkans which has now produced the crisis we're dealing with. here, we have tried to firstly help the member states of the european union who are on the front line by offering to relocate asylum seekers. we're offering assistance to the
member states to help with the processing of the applications and also to help with the difficult issue of returning those whose asylum claims are rejected. this is a very difficult issue because it's complicated. our processing takes on average about four months. at the end of that time, do have to make some choices. people who are granted asylum do have the right to stay. people who are not, we have to find out how they are dealt with and dealt with correctly. it's clear from all of this the system that worked, the country that takes arrival is the country that takes responsibility, is no longer workable faced with the crisis. since this crisis will probably continue, the commission has made it clear we will need to rethink the system and we'll be making proposals both to have a permanent resettlement scheme but also to have a revision of our asylum procedures so in the future we can handle these kind of situations much more nimbly
and effectively. the people we're experiencing in europe as refugees are only a small percentage of the total number of displaced people. i want to support everything that has been said about the need to support the neighboring countries, lebanon, jordan, turkey, and also the other countries in the region who are experiencing difficulty, and particularly the push factor. and i agree with everything assistance secretary richard said about the falloff of funding for the international agencies. the european union has member states. we have stepped up our assistance additionally. the united states is a major donor. i think we are doing our share. i think we do need to insist that others do more in order to try and ensure that the conditions in which people are living in these countries enabled them to have a decent existence and perhaps somewhat
to reduce the pressure they may feel to move elsewhere. also, we need a political solution to the sources of this conflict. syria obviously. and end the violence. some political protest. let the people of syria rebuild their own future. we're fortunate at least in libya which was a major transit problem due to the breakdown of law and order, there has been a positive liberation. my point is to say this is a crisis affecting europe massively but it is truly a global crisis. as the representative of uhcr has said. we're grateful for all the united states has done. but i think we all need to increase our efforts. we would hope the united states will continue its diplomatic engagement with us and all relevant international partners to try and find a political solution to the root causes of the refugee crisis.
reaching out to third countries. encouraging them to be more receptive to refugees but also increasing the amount of money to the u.n. agencies, world food program. there's desperate underfunding. we would be grateful if some consideration could be given to increasing the number of syrian refugees taken in the united states. we would also appreciate if some -- we appreciate it's difficult and the sovereign decision of the united states but some effort on reducing the processing time, which is quite lengthy. pushing the increasing funding through the u.n. system. so chairman that's really all i will say in addition to my written submission. we're very grateful for this opportunity. it's a huge challenge. we really in europe are very committed to facing this challenge. i think we can be proud of much that has been done. perhaps some things could have been done differently or better. but we will continue to face this crisis with the full basis of our humanitarian values, our commitment, to treating refugees fairly, and to providing
hopefully assistance where it's needed. but most importantly political solutions that get to the root causes of why people flee their homes. >> you mention increase the number of asylum slots or refugee slots. with all due respect, what do you think it ought to be? i know it's a tough question -- >> sir, i don't -- any increase would be welcome. we appreciate it. this is a matter ultimately for the united states to decide. clearly, this problem is going to be with us for some time. we're going to have to find ways of offering these 11 million displaced people some possibilities of diverse places to create a future. we hope the united states can play a part in that. >> i'll ask all of these questions to you and answer if you like. with winter fast approaching, obviously the threat of disease, people dying from exposure to
cold and bad weather is increased markedly, particularly with so many people in transit. i'm wondering, you know, if there's some early warning surveillance on how we might mitigate that threat. we're always worried about a breakout of the new pandemic. obviously that looms large, i think, in the affected region. maybe, mr. callahan, you might want to speak to what you're finding and what others are finding and all of you might want to speak to this, in terms of diseases, you know, the morbidity as well as the fatality rates. we know that children are less likely to be getting their immunizations. we know other opportunistic infections will seize upon all this transition and all this chaos and people do get sicker in war torn areas. if you might want to speak to that, would appreciate it. i would ask you also, do christians and those of other religious minorities face other unique challenges perhaps not faced by the sunni or by the shia? we know in some refugee camps,
some of the christians are less likely to be housed there. that there are problems sometimes with an integration issue. so i'm wondering if they are left further behind when it comes to refugee protection and asylum-seeking -- do they have unique problems? the wfp, short for the world food program, shortfall, if that were alleviated quickly and other humanitarian gaps, would that likely lead to stemming the number of people who are uprooting? or has this now become a movement that is going to run its course as people just leave? again, i thought your two mega trends coupled with the trigger i think so well put it, you know, people don't expect this war to end any time soon. they have spent down to the point of impoverishment.
now the other cuts that have just made life beyond miserable. if that were reversed. if the humanitarian crisis from that point of view were to be robustly attacked, what would happen there? you mentioned ambassador o'sullivan about the dublin regulation. aneed to ajudd case whether or not they're asylum eligible. we all know that means the country where they first make their presence are the ones that need to adjudicate whether or not they're asylum eligible. we all know some of the countries have a less capable, less capability in that area. i know our own director of intelligence clapper, our fbi
direct, special enjoy for global coalition to counter isil, have expressed concerned about terrorists groups like isis posing as refugees, especially at those european countries where there might be a less capable, you know, effort to weed them out. you did indicate that's being looked at. seems to be if you could elaborate on where that might go. and finally -- i guess that's enough of that. if you could. >> let me perhaps focus in on the question regarding what would happen if the funding pipeline was replenished and wfp and everybody was able to respond to the needs of the refugees in the countries of asylum. i think that the answer is that people would continue to flee from syria. there would continue to be internal displacement. the attacks of this last days in aleppo are said to have generated 70,000 new people
moving. so it wouldn't stem the tide, once again, because they're refugees, they would simply be perhaps less compelled to leave their first countries of asylum to go to europe or elsewhere. it wouldn't relieve the pressure on the international community to still provide support to the host countries in a bigger and better way, in a more sustained multiyear manner rather than year to year, actually it's quarter to quarter humanitarian assistance, and it would perhaps focus more attention on the legal avenues for people to leave lebanon and jordan through resettlement, through family reunification and other means. which would allow for a more managed predictable approach to arrival in europe as well as the united states. that's the best case scenario. >> before the rest of you
answer, if you could, maybe you'd want to touch on this as well, with regards to human trafficking and the exploitation of women, are there assessments being undertaken to look at situations where women are more vulnerable? i have a whole list of places. i mentioned munich as just one of those where women have been raped and they've been sold into slavery. we all know how the exploiters just have capability to find these women and sell them and reduce them to commodities. i know we all care about it. i know the europe union has done yeoman's work on combating these crimes. but i'm wondering if given all the chaos if enough is being done and your recommendations on that. >> very good. i know for a fact this is a matter of particular interest to
you and to our partners and to the states. with specific references, but we can certainly furnish them to the committee. >> to answer your questions regarding the disease you have mentioned and the weather which is coming. of courses a great concern in serbia. we are trying to assist the refugees as much as possible. and trying to give them accommodation, food and clothes. most of them are coming from areas there is no harsh winter conditions. of course serbia's capacities are limited. that's why we need the assistance from the european union. i'm thankful you have allocated 1.5 million euros for these purposes.
actually, we need more. we have established some refugee centers and registration centers on the border with macedonia, with bulgaria and also on hungary and croatia. as far as the decisions of concern, they are present and they are medical experts who can aid these refugees. although i have to stress that the destination country of most of them is not serbia. they are just in transit. the average stay in serbia is three to four days. that limits actually the possibility there are some diseases. although it's happened where people seek and even some of them died and also women giving birth to children.
all of these were taken care of by the medical team. and the other question which you have mentioned regarding the treatment of the various nationals and religions. in serbia, all of them are treated equally. if they are sunnis or shia or christians, it is no difference. we are treating them with dignity and we are welcoming them and trying to help them. because serbia was also -- serbian people were also in the past subjected to situations similar to this and we really understand their pride and why they leaving their own countries. so if it would be the situation, my opinion is that we have to work with the whole international community. with the lead of the united states. to solve the crisis at the roots. and in that way, the refugees, the number of refugees will be much, much smaller. thank you. >> just to pick up on those two
points. winterization, it is something we're working on. getting proper clothing and structures in place. as we see -- and they need to be portable structures because of the points of migration constantly changing. we're looking at that as well as bathrooms in some of the host countries with the port-o-potties and things like that. we have had medical teams out. there is an increase in respiratory disease, skin diseases. because people haven't been able to bathe in weeks. we're talking about families that have been going for ten weeks at a time. in some of these circumstance, you do have to worry about in the longer term if you get more and more people packed in some of these neumann's land, the issues of other disease his spreading would be more rapid.
to jump on the issue of the christians, we haven't noticed as much in the current migration, but certainly when christians have left both syria and iraq, they are not going into camps because, frankly, they don't trust those communities. and are integrating into local communities where they have someone they know they can trust in those areas. i'd say that's both for christians and yazidis. they also aren't seeking the same refugee protection because they're outside of that. you mention trafficking. not only is there an issue of trafficking of women but because of the vulnerability of the refugees, children are much more susceptible. the parents go out doing things, they leave children behind for someone to take care of and we find more cases children being abused, which is heartbreaking. it's one of those cases to get them out of these situations we need to make sure they have emergency schooling and caregivers that provide that opportunity so their families aren't vulnerable. >> chairman, on your point about the dublin agreement, and as you say, just for those not familiar with the jargon, it means the -- within the european union, the first country where a person claims asylum is the country that processes the application and looks after the person while that is happening. clearly, this used to work quite well. and i don't think this was a problem of technical ability of any country to process such asylum seekers.
until we get to the point of large numbers where the system has now been overwhelmed. as the ambassador of serbia said, in many case, people don't want to stay in the first country they've arrived. the struggle now is simply some sort of registration. and then allowing them to travel on. that's why we will need to revisit this as the basic principle of asylum seeking in europe. i don't know what will come forward as an alternative. we're giving strong assistant to member states who feel overwhelmed with the numbers to help them cope better with the numbers and process the claims better. on the security issue, i mean, you discuss this at some length with assistant secretary richard. i don't want to say there is no risk. but top very frank, the calculation on the european security level, and that is. they generally feel this is not a high risk at the moment.
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earner to be the first person to move and leave the family behind and send money back or eventually seek family unification when you've built up a livelihood. it's a fairly tough journey. i'm not surprised it's young fit men who feel more able to make it than people with families or that man who was carrying his children on his shoulders. i think those are just some elements i would put into discussion. >> if i could follow up. there have been reports funding from macedonia, which is obviously an area that's been impacted by the inflow, is inadequate. is that something the european union is looking at to beef that up? because so many people have come in through macedonia. >> well, i mean, we are firstly trying to deal with, you know, the influx coming on to the european territory for which we're legally responsibility. we're working very closely with all the neighboring countries. we understand, as the representative has said, nobody
thinks you can build a wall and stop this. it is a question of how you can manage it and how you can avoid trying to fix it in one place, you simply spill the problem over into a neighboring country. that's why we really need an integrated effort around the region with good cooperation between us and also financial burden sharing to help everyone contribute to helping this be done in the most humane and correct way vis-a-vis the ref agrees, and hopefully in due course to slow down the flow and persuade people maybe they don't have to rush to get inside the european borders. there is a better future which may be elsewhere for them. >> thank you very much. thank you for being here this afternoon and the work you're doing. to address this crisis. i want to first agree with the statements that have been said. what i saw when i was in europe was a tremendous outpouring of native people in greece, in
germany and other places where people were trying to respond to the humanitarian effort. while they were overwhelmed, they were trying to to the right thing. i'm sure in serbia that's also the case. i think certainly leadership from countries like germany, to say this is a crisis we should all respond to is important to recognize. we met with the coast guard in greece who often, at great personal risk, has rescued literally thousands of people from the mediterranean who were saved because of that heroism. i also agree with everything that's been said about the need to support lebanon, turkey and jordan because they have certainly taken be in so many refugees. thank you for putting a face on these refugees. we talked to some young men in settlement house in berlin who
were students, had fled, wanted to continue their education and wanted to go back to syria because they wanted to be the future leaders of that country. i have three just questions before we close this afternoon. and the first has to do, ambassador, with one of the things that surprised me in germany was hearing how many of the refugees who had come there were from the balkans, mostly from albania and kosovo. appreciating the history in the balkans. you may want to hand that
question off to somebody else. can you talk about why you think we're seeing those large numbers of refugees from the balkans? most of the focus today has been on africa and the middle east but, in fact, we are seeing those refugees. and what is the response to those folks who have left those balkan countries? >> thank you senator for this question. yes, you are right. big number of refugees have left recently, the balkans. mainly from kosovo, albania. but also from some other countries. and the reason i think is more economic. the economic hardships. the lack of jobs. the high level of unemployment. lack of perspective for their future lives. so they think that they will find a better life in western europe and that it will be their future. but in order to solve this
problem, i think we have to work together, and all these countries in the region should be united on an agenda to promote the economic relations with all the european countries and united states. and to attract more investments. once they have a better life there and they have possibilities for jobs and livelihood there, they will stay. so the root problem in the balkans is economic reasons. not like in syria or other countries. yes, i can compare it with some african countries who are also leaving for economic reasons. my prime minister, thank you very much for receiving him last time he was here, has really good agenda on the countries. that's why his first visit after
elected as prime minister. to show our support to -- and also as you know albania, twice, and the albanian prime minister. so the program which we are doing is i think the resolution of the whole problem. >> i certainly applaud that leadership and very much appreciate it. one of the things we heard was we know that many of the african migrants are coming across through libya, as has been talked about. many coming from turkey across the mediterranean to greece. one of the things we've heard is there are human trafficking operators operating out of turkey. there's the potential to crack down on those traffickers in a way that would help with the
problem. to what extent do you see the international community or the eu working with turkey to try and address those traffickers who are contributing to immigration? mr. pitterman? or ambassador o'sullivan? >> i think the consensus is i should answer that. i mentioned the naval mission we put in place. i don't know if there is a legal difference between smugglers and traffickers. basically both types of activity are at work here. and it is clear that in the early stages of this crisis, this was particularly true in libya, people paying large sums of money to come a very convoluted route.
and then put out to sea and a phone call to the guard saying a boat's going to sink if you don't rescue it. and we have put in place a stable mission which basically will operate across the whole mediterranean with a mandate. we're very grateful to the united states for support on that. u.n. mandate to operate on the high seas. we hope we will reach agreement with the new libyan administration to help them address the issue on their shores. and we're engaged in conversations with turkey actively to see how we can jointly work with them to try and deal with this issue of illegal movement into greece which you've been able to witness it firsthand. we're actively engaged. we have a naval force that's trying to make some inroads. it's not easy. i think we need to deal with the smugglers. once again this is dealing with a symptom. but we need to deal with it. but we will still -- the bigger problem will still remain. this is one aspect we need to address. >> one of the things we heard is as migrants were put into the big rubber boats and that's exactly what they are, big rubber rafts, they were told
when they get close to the shore to cut them so they will begin to sink so the coast guard would come and rescue them. as you point out, this is the smugglers or humanitarian efforts. it's a response to the immediate challenge. the longer term challenge is how do we address the conflicts. the economic conditions. also what about the reintegration efforts. one of the things we heard, that's a longer term challenge. it's probably a more expensive in the long-term challenge. it's one in which often members of eu countries are more concerned with addressing. in terms of the immigration challenges we have in the united states.
can you speak to ambassador o'sullivan what the discussions at the eu and what you're looking at that will address that longer term reintegration challenge and how that is being looked at across eu member states? >> we have a long history of immigration. almost every european country has significant populations from within europe or north africa or turkey, 3 million turks living in germany, very substantial north african populations living in france and belgium. more recent times, my own country ireland has got 250,000 poles living there and some 60,000 chinese i believe. so the world has changed. i think we are conscious that in some cases the integration of these communities has been more successful than others. i think people are very conscious of looking forward.
i think we now assume we are going to have a consistent flow of refugees and asylum seekers and possibly economic migrants that we have to face and deal with. we'd like to deal with the root causes. we'd like to feel people didn't have to come. on the other hand, we have a demographic problem. and i think people are conscious of trying to think through how do we ensure the integration, how do we ensure language training, access to education. president juncker made a strong appeal that all these asylum seekers should be allowed work which is not necessarily the -- he said not only the dignity of work but the integration and the sense of belonging to a community. i think yes, there's a lot of thought going into it. we're dealing with the immediate crisis. the next phase is definitely, well, given that these people are now here and probably will continue to come, perhaps in slightly smaller numbers, but doesn't matter, we really need, in each member state, to have a conscious policy of how we make sure they are successfully integrated into our respective
societies. >> so we will stay tuned for further decisions at the eu level. >> unfortunately, it's not something you see the results of two days afterwards. i think we need to stay tuned and come back to see how successful we've been. >> well, thank you all very much. thank you, chairman smith, for holding the hearing. >> if i may add a quick word on this point. unhcr has been quite proactive to provide a dialogue, a convening for that. the u.s. has quite a lot to learn from the resettlement experience in europe. up until now, that experience has been very much the social welfare state model. dealing with tens, hundreds of people. now, au contraire, they're confronted with quite important numbers of refugees being resettled or relocated within europe. much like the american model. as assistant secretary richards said, they're also asking questions.
and the united states can provide some very helpful answers with the imperative to work. the united states hasn't really set up standards for citizenship. we don't know how many refugees who have been resettled have become citizens of the united states. the other data map -- other data indicators aren't always very clearly available. the main thing now is a lot more engagement by, for example, the migration policy institute. where they're having experts in integration of refugees and immigrants in europe speaking to americans to learn mu art how things are happening and where there are lessons to be learned. it will be a long-term thing. a lot of what we've been talking about today, if i may just -- as a sort of summary, closure remark from my side, prompt that first the refugees, the
refugees is, like you said, is like a symptom of the problem. they are victims. they're not choosing to do. while they may be of economic importance, that's not their primary motivation after all. but what we're in for now is the long term. whether it's -- and it's big bucks frankly. in terms of reconstruction in syria, when there is a solution, and iraq, in terms of development assistance to the host countries in the interim and also, too, encourage other middle income asylum countries like tunisia and kenya and ethiopia and cameroon to continue to provide asylum to literally hundreds of thousands of refugees very much at their expense because there's no way that unhcr is able to support host communities at the same level as we provide support to refugees. and that there will be there for a continuing need for development aid. it's a big challenge ahead of
us. we're talking marshall plan. >> thank you. thank you so much for your expertise, your extraordinary commitment to humanity, which is played out every single day. you've provided this commit with a tremendous number of insights. and recommendations that we will work on as individual members of the senate and the house but also a commission. thank you very much. the hearing is adjourned.
paul ryan announced he'll consider running for speaker. he gave member until friday to make a decision. we expect an update wednesday morning after they meet to discuss the leadership race and their legislative agenda. after that fbi director james comey and jeh johnson testify before the homeland security committee. we'll join that hearing in progress following the house republican leadership meeting. this sunday night on q&a. "the new york times" national political reporter shares her experiences from hillary clinton's presidential campaign and compares what it's like now to bake in 2008. >> to be honest, i was a lot younger. i was sort of the traveling person. i wasn't in a senior role. and i also, you know, when you're traveling all of the time.
i got to know the people that traveled with her. i felt like i got to know her pretty well because she would come back in the plane and talk with us. but at the same time i didn't have the same sources at the campaign and high level people that i have now. and whether that's a function of being at the tooims or the function of being in a more senior role. >> sunday night at 8:00 eastern and pacific on c-span's q&a. vice president joe biden recently talked about the events leading up to the raid that ended in the killing of osama bin laden by u.s. forces. >> for the president and i and only two others in the
administration knew about abod bod as early as august. we did not go for almost a year to get him. major players in the cabinet didn't know about it until january or february the following year. and so it was something that was a difficult call for the president. so we sat in the cabinet room and at the end of the day, making the decision he said, now i want everybody's opinion. and everybody went around the room and there were only two people who were definitive and were absolutely certain. leon panetta said go and bob gates has already publicly said this, don't to go. others were 49-51. some ended up saying go but it was a close call. i joked and sadia eel sound like 17 larry summers, economists. and he said joe, what would you do. there was a third option think didn't think we should do. i said, well, i think we should
make one more pass with another uav to see if it is him. the reason i did that is because i didn't want to take a position to go if that was not where he was going to go. so as we walked out of the room and walked upstairs, i said -- i told him my opinion that i thought he should go but to follow his own instincts. it would have been a mistake, imagine if i would have said in front of everyone, don't go or go and his decision was a different decision. it undercuts that relationship. >> later, white house press secretary josh earnest was asked questions on the vice president's remarks and other topic at the daily press briefing. this is about an hour. >> yeah, tough night last night. fortunately we got a day game again today. we'll try to get this moving
along so we can -- i know how interested all of you are in game four. i think first pitch is at 4:00. so not that anybody is keeping track. so i actually do not have anything at the top so we can go straight to your questions. >> thanks. will you give us the white house view on the canadian election results? >> well, speaking of things happening in canada, i guess, the united states and certainly president obama con grach lats prime minister justin true doe on a win. the president will have an opportunity later today to call him to congratulate him on that election victory. i'd be remiss if i didn't point out that both the president and the country is deeply appreciative of prime minister
harper's efforts to build a strong u.s.-canada relationship. and as you know, president obama had a number of occasions to meet firsthand -- to meet i'm c president obama will speak with prime minister harper at some point in the not too distant future as well. >> do you know if the president will invite justin trudeau to come to the white house? >> at this point, i don't know that, but if an invitation is extended, we'll be sure to let you know. >> does the white house think relations with canada will get a little easier under prime minister designate trudeau? i know harper was a little annoyed over the length of time that it was taking to approve the keystone pipeline. >> i think it would be short-sighted to reduce the relationship between the two countries to just one issue. the fact is there are a whole range of issues where the united states and canada worked effectively together to advance the interests of our two
countries. obviously canada made an important contribution to our counter-isil coalition. we know that canada has been an important part of making the trans-pacific partnership a reality. canadian negotiators engaged in that process in an important way and made an important contribution in bringing those talks to a conclusion and we believe that completing that agreement and implementing it would be in the best interests of certainly the u.s. economy and u.s. middle class families and that it will have an impact in canada. canada's also made a substantial and important commitment in advance of the paris climate talks. we believe there's more that canada could do in this regard, but the fact that they are stepping up and indicating, making a commitment is an
indication of the important role that canada plays, not just in the relationship with the united states but in terms of their leadership around the world. and the united states is fortunate to have such a strong and close partnership with a country like canada that does have the this global influence. and our bilateral relationship has enhanced the security and prosperity of the american people. and we certainly are appreciative of prime minister harper's efforts to strengthen that relationship. and we look forward to building on that kind of progress. when mr. trudeau takes over the prime minister's office. >> i have a daily biden question. >> only one? >> only one. >> he said today he spends between four and seven hours with the president. seven hours seems like a long time to spend with one person. [ laughter ] >> is that a couldn't on your
colleagues in the ap booth? >> oh! [ laughter ] >> we don't want to go there. >> i'm just teasing. >> outside of the presidential daily brief, you know, the lunch they're having this afternoon. meetings with cabinet secretaries and some of their public appearances, their joint public appearances, how would you account for the rest of the time that he says they spend together? >> well, it certainly is not unusual for the president to convene broader national security meetings or other domestic policy meetings. i think the meetings you just ran through would account for about three hours every day. so it's not unusual for the president to have another hour or two of meetings on his schedule that would also include the vice president. this is also subject to the president's travel schedule and the vice president's travel schedule. so, this is not a daily occurrence. but the timing window that he
laid out seems generally accurate to me, based on my reading of the public schedule, okay? jeff? >> josh, a follow up, now that it's over, would there be a decision on the keystone pipeline? >> secretary kerry addressed this earlier today. the secretary of state leads the agency that is conducting the review of this project and my understanding is that secretary kerry said this election would have no impact on the timing or the final decision of the project. this is still under way at the state department. based on what secretary kerry says t doesn't seem that the canadian election will have an impact on the timing. >> is there a time when you'd like to see that recommendation over here? >> at this point, no. i think the president has already said that he is
expecting that he'll be able to complete this policy process prior to his departure from office. but that's still 15 months away or so. so hopefully we'll get it done well before then. >> you mentioned that the united states -- >> if for show other reason that we can stop talking about it. >> you mentioned that the united states would like to see canada do more on climate change, but prime minister designate said during his campaign that he wanted to set up a national standard for carbon pricing and would like to have a north american agreement on clean energy and the environment. do you see this new leader as, and this election, and the results of this election as an opportunity to engage on some of those ideas and perhaps get further commitments from canada on climate change? >> i think it's too early to judge how mr. trudeau will follow through on some of the policy debates that occurred in
the context of the campaign. i'll confess that i didn't follow those policy debates technicaltec particularly closely, but the united states and certainly the president has played a role in the conversations, let me say it this way. in each of the conversations that the president's been having with world leaders of late, he has been making clear that he considers commitments in advance of the paris conference a high priority. and he's been encouraging the leaders of those countries to make an important contribution to success in paris. and obviously, that was part of the discussions with president park when she was here. this is part of the discussion that the president had with president xi when he was at the white house a couple weeks ago. obviously, this was something that was a part of the pope's visit to the white house. so, and the president's spent a lot of time talking about this in the context of the united nations general assembly. just off the top of my head, it seems that in each of the
significant engagements that he's had with world leaders over the last several weeks, this has been high on his agenda. and i'm confident that will be the case when he speaks with mr. trudeau as well. >> and lastly, from that campaign, mr. trudeau said he would withdraw canada's air force from the fight with islamic state and syria. how does the white house feel about that? >> obviously the obama administration will be in talks with our canadian partners about their contribution to the counter-isil effort. they've made an important contribution thus far and we're appreciative of them lending their talent and skill and expertise to that effort. and we hope that we can continue to count on their ongoing support for this very important mission. we certainly value the contributions that we've received from the canadians thus far in terms of our strategy to
degrade and ultimately destroy isil, and we're certainly hoping that they will continue to play that important role that they've played thus far. okay? j.c.? >> josh, as winter now begins to bear down on eastern europe and the immigrant migration, refugee crisis there, has the president had any updates? any new conversations with the leaders, including angela merkle, et cetera, in terms of additional support. we know that the oust is number one in providing that kind of monetary support. we've discussed that. but is there any new initiatives that this white house is beginning to prepare for? >> i don't have anything new to announce at this point, j.c. the united states continues to be the largest donor of humanitarian assistance to this effort, and you know, the president continues to be concerned about the significance of this humanitarian crisis.
the scale of of of this crisis is historic, even. and it certainly should stir the conscience of people around the world in responding to it. the united states has stepped up. the u.s. government has stepped up to make a significant contribution. the white house recently did organize this online portal so that if there are private u.s. citizens who are interested in making a financial contribution to ongoing humanitarian relief efforts, that there's information about that on the white house website, essentially it will steer you toward charitable organizations geared toward responding to this crisis. >> some of the past hatreds in that part of the country since the '30s are coming out again, resurfacing. i know the president is aware. but does this cause him any moral pain when he thinks of this kind of thing coming back
again, to face europe and to face this country? >> i think part of this, there is a natural human reaction that i think does not reflect in any way the majority, the prevailing opinion either across the united states or across europe about the fact that these individuals who are fleeing violence in syria are human beings. they have the same worries and concerns and dreams and ambitions that other human beings do. and our humanity calls on us to recognize that humanity inside of them, and that certainly is reflected in the policy approach the united states has pursued. and i think it's reflected in the kind of reception that most europeans have offered when,