UNITED NATIONS (AP) — World leaders gathered at the United Nations pledged Tuesday to take in 360,000 refugees next year, President Barack Obama said, roughly doubling the previous year’s allowance in a bid to mitigate the worst refugee crisis since World War II.
The United States said 52 countries taking part in a U.S.-led summit were stepping up to accelerate resettlement and boost financial support for refugees. The White House did not release a full list of participating countries or a breakdown of their pledges, making Obama’s boast of major headway impossible to confirm.
Obama, in an emotional event designed to invoke empathy for the plight of refugees, called it a “crisis of epic proportions” that tested both the international order and the world’s humanity. He drew a parallel to the Holocaust, calling the U.S. move to turn away Jews fleeing Nazi Germany a stain on America’s collective conscience.
“I believe history will judge us harshly if we do not rise to this moment,” Obama said.
The commitments announced Tuesday fell far short of what aid groups say is needed to address the crisis. Some 65 million people around the world have fled their homes because of war or persecution or to seek a better life, including about 21.3 million considered refugees by the U.N. Refugee Agency. Millions of Palestinian refugees are registered with the U.N.
The key driver of the modern crisis has been Syria’s long-running civil war, though large numbers have also fled instability in Iraq and Afghanistan.
In an oblique reference to Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, who has suggested temporarily banning Muslim immigrants, Obama said buying into the notion that Muslim immigrants pose an inherent risk would reinforce terrorists’ propaganda. He said that would send the message that countries like the U.S. were “somehow opposed to Islam.”
“It is an ugly lie that must be rejected in all our countries,” Obama said.
Last week, the White House announced that the U.S. would resettle 110,000 refugees in the coming year, a 30 percent increase over the 85,000 allowed in this year. Obama called on wealthier nations to step up, adding that “we all have to do more.”
The U.S. said countries taking part were also pledging to increase humanitarian aid by $3 billion. China said it was pledging $300 million, while the United Kingdom said it would resettle 20,000 and provide almost $2 billion in aid — a roughly 10 percent bump. Argentina vowed to resettlement of Syrian refugees but said the exact figures would depend on how much global assistance was provided.
“Your compassion will really help these helpless people,” U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told world leaders. “If not us, who can do it?”
Private companies were stepping up, too. The White House said more than four dozen U.S. businesses had pledged $650 million, including Facebook, Twitter, MasterCard, Johnson & Johnson and yogurt maker Chobani.
Meeting with CEOs of some of the companies and actor George Clooney and his wife, Amal, before the summit, Obama welcomed the pledges as more than an “extraordinary gesture of compassion.”
“I want to emphasize that from their perspective this isn’t charity. This is part of their overall mission. It makes good business sense,” he said.
Associated Press writers Michael Astor and Josh Lederman contributed to this report.
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This Week’s Celebrity Instagrams (11/26-12/2)
30 photos Launch gallery
1. Little Legend and Puddy 😍😍😍😍
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2. "You on point Phife?" "all the time,Tip". 💥 #bannedfromnormal
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3. Vegan! The Impossible burger at Crossroads
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4. Lawrence #BeforeandAfterEpisodes 1-4: 184lbs 13% body fatEpisode 8: 196lbs 8% body fat S/O @coachdaveboxing with the works outs and @kildareriordan with the nutrition
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5. Jus haaaanngin out
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6. Meanwhile back at home in Atlanta GA someone mad they not on the 🛳. 😳
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7. No limits... Photo cred: Chris Bridges @ludacris
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8. new new
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9. Apparently my 260lbs is too much for the actual vines in the Hawaiian jungles to hold me without breaking and me falling hundreds of feet. So for safety purposes, I'm forced to swing thru #Jumanjj on wires strong enough to hold 12 adult buffaloes and 1 adult Rock. #OnSet #Jumanji #IronicallyIEatBuffaloDailyForLunch #MoreManThanNatureKnowsWhatToDoWith
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10. hey ma! 🎎#wcw 💙
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11. Surprise visit to our factories!!! #GoodAmerican #USA
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13. Peachy Keen 🔥✨⚡️
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14. If this don't look thankful I don't know what does. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours. #UltraBlessed #24kMagic #SweetPotatoFly
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15. Late nights @nbcmarlon with the writers... we in here!!!
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16. There goes my baaaaaaaaabbbbyyyyy #QueenKingMagic!!! We're up to something! Ira BIG!!! Stay out our buisness -
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17. You want to win every game you play but when you come home to these faces... who cares. #ILoveYouGirls best part of my day, everyday!
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18. Steady,steady..... full size jenga.. "I got this one "???? Or do I ?
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19. Cornrows kind of day 😉@dontaysavoy2 you convinced me and I love. ❤️️
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20. #BrotherlyLove #tbt
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22. #basel #TeamLOVE @kingcombs
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23. Just introduced a special screening of @directher 's groundbreaking (must see) documentary @13thfilm with my brother @themichaelealy | @unitedblackout #blackoutblackfriday
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24. Me & Vanessa Williams giving #DuckLips #Pose on the set of #DaytimeDivas @vh1 - Coming Soon to a tv near you. Lol. - My make up done by @makeupsurgeon
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25. This picture just makes me wanna praise the Lord, you hear me!!!!!! Yes Lord brotha #TEDDYCAMPBELL What a #man !!! You are everything right on this picture husband ......... #gorgeous #stylish #classy #strong #masculine #king #sexy #debonair #gentlemenstyle And that #bible in your hand just seals the deal for me (probably cause i know that, that is what helped you become just as amazing as you look😘). While my heart and mind experiences the goodness of God at #church on Sundays, my eyes experiences the goodness of Teddy😍. Amen somebody🙌🏽. "Bless the Lord oh my soul and all that is within me bless his holy name" #myman #myhusband #goodman #blackman #dapperman #godlyman #goodfather #mybestfriend
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26. Yesterday was my mama's 53rd birthday!!!!! Got to celebrate with her all day. If this is what I have to look forward to I can't wait. Looking like a soft bucket a cocoa butter. Yaaaaaaaaaas! 😍😍😍 love you mommy!
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27. "Shout out to @PureAtlanta for getting the family right"....I'm loving this jogger. 😍😍
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28. This pic warms my heart ❤️ #myLogiebeans and aunt aunt umba @itowandabraxton 😘
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29. You will always be my baby😜. #HappyBirthdayReginae #mybaby18
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30. GC "Gods Child" Red on Red SweatSuit available now at www.MonicaApparel.com ... Take Your Crown wherever you go!! I'm pictured in a Medium... Go to the site now for other options ... cc: @trukernell
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