Obama pushes tech firms to aid Syrian refugees

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The White House is pushing technology companies — from Kickstarter to Instacart — to roll out campaigns to help with the refugee crisis in Syria.

President Obama wants the tech campaigns to encourage ordinary citizens to help out, calling it a “moral responsibility” that extends past government aid and Fortune 100 companies.

“Large corporations have donated millions more. But you do not need to be a government or Fortune 100 company to #AidRefugees,” the White House’s director of product Joshua Miller wrote in a blog post

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Kickstarter, the crowdfunding website, on Tuesday launched a campaign for the coming week to encourage donations to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. The company recently reincorporated as a “public benefit” company, and its chief executive said the Syria campaign was meant to “bring the most basic necessities to people who need them dearly.”

People can spend anywhere from $15 to provide someone with a sleeping bag, to $600 to provide a year of education to a child.

Instacart is a company that allows people to order groceries online for delivery. When checking out, customers on the site will also be encouraged to buy groceries for refugee families, with donations going to the UN. 

Airbnb is providing housing credits to aid workers in and around Syria and matching others' donations. Twitter also recently unveiled its donate button for nongovernmental organizations. The White House said the feature was unveiled early at the president’s call.

The four-year-old civil war in Syria has displaced millions of people in the region and put a strain on neighboring countries. 

The White House recently announced its intention to allow 85,000 refugees into the country in 2016 — a 15,000-person increase from this year. That number is expected to reach 100,000 in 2017. 

The government has also donated $4.5 billion in humanitarian aid. 

Only about 1,600 Syrian refugees have been admitted to the United States, and only a fraction of the expanded refugee population will come from Syria. Republicans, however, have questioned the cost and safety of allowing Syrian refugees into the country.