Trump declared “mission accomplished” after the US-led airstrikes on Syria in response to a suspected chemical weapons attack on the rebel-held town of Douma which killed 42 people.
His administration was immediately criticized for its reluctance to accept people fleeing the war-torn country: in the past six months, the US has accepted 44 Syrian refugees – just two more than died in the alleged Douma gas attack.
“The administration has turned its back on the country’s historical practice of welcoming and resettling refugees in this country,” said Jennifer Sime, senior vice-president of US Programs at the International Rescue Committee (IRC).
The US government has said it will admit 45,000 refugees from around the world in 2018 – the lowest number in more than 30 years – but advocates say that the country is on course to admit barely half that number. US vetting procedures were already rigorous before the government made them more stringent in October 2017 with additional measures including extra security vetting. These new measures and three attempts to introduce travel bans have caused a sharp decline in resettlement and sewn deep uncertainty in people fleeing danger or hoping to rejoin their families.
For Syrians, the numbers have decreased from 5,839 resettlements in the first half of fiscal year 2017 to 44 resettlements in same period in 2018 – a 99% drop.