US pledges another $419M to Syrian refugees

US pledges another $419M to Syrian refugees
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The United States will donate an additional $419 million in humanitarian aid to address the plight of refugees fleeing Syria, the White House said Monday.

The new money will pay for food, water, shelter and medical care for Syrians affected by the conflict, spokesman Josh Earnest said.

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“We have long said that the most important contribution to address the urgent humanitarian needs of these refugees is in the form of trying to meet their basic needs,” Earnest told reporters. “This is the urgent relief that Syrian refugees need.”

The announcement brings the total amount of U.S. humanitarian assistance for Syrian refugees to more than $4.5 billion since the civil war began there four and a half years ago.

Earnest stressed the U.S. has long been the largest donor to the humanitarian relief effort to assist Syrians who have been driven from their homes due to the civil war and the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

The announcement comes one day after Secretary of State John KerryJohn Forbes KerrySyria too complex to make decisions in 280 characters … even for a president Kerry to Trump: Forget 'fictional' border crisis, declare emergency for climate Russia's next moves in Venezuela should be closely monitored MORE said the U.S. would raise its annual refugee cap from 70,000 to 85,000 to accommodate more Syrians fleeing their war-torn country. The number would rise again to 100,000 in 2017.

The administration has come under pressure to resettle more Syrian refugees to take the pressure off European and Middle Eastern nations that have been strained by the massive exodus of more than 4 million who have fled.

The Obama administration has said it is preparing to take in an additional 10,000 Syrians by the end of the next fiscal year, October 2016.

Democrats, and some Republicans running for president, have also called for a more generous refugee policy. Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton said this weekend the U.S. should take in 65,000 refugees, echoing a call from her opponent, former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley.