SEPTEMBER 23, 2015

Dr. Jill Stein today called for admitting at least 65,000 refugees from Syria and elsewhere to the U.S. as a first step in addressing the refugee crisis. She pointed out that the refugees are a tragic symptom of a much bigger underlying disease that also needs an immediate response. 

“As a doctor I know that in order to fix a deadly symptom, you have to treat the underlying deadly disease. Much of the refugee crisis stems directly from disastrous U.S. military interventions in the Middle East and Africa, made worse by massive, U.S.-led weapon sales that have inflamed the entire region,” said Stein, a medical doctor seeking the Green Party nomination for President.

“U.S. efforts to achieve ‘regime change’ in Iraq and Libya, along with the effort to root out Al Qeda in Afghanistan, were colossal failures that cost the lives of over 1 million residents and thousands of Americans. While the U.S. is one of many warring factions in Syria, it bears major responsibility for Syrian refugees as well. ISIS, a major source of violence in Syria, was a product of the U.S. devastation in Iraq. Going back many decades, the oppressive Assad family itself came to power in the wake of a U.S. sponsored coup that brought another brutal Syrian dictator to power in the 1950s, unleashing a cascade of violence culminating in the Assad  ascendency.”

She concluded, “The history of the Middle East and North Africa makes painfully clear that U.S. military interventions in the region have caused an escalating set of disasters. This vicious cycle must stop here. We must not respond to this disaster by intensifying the military interventions that caused the chaos and violence driving the refugee crisis in the fist place. Instead we should initiate an arms embargo to the region, compel the Saudis to stop funding ISIS, and get Turkey to stop allowing militias to cross their border to fight for ISIS.”

The International Rescue Committee has called for the US to take at least 65,000 refugees from Syria’s civil war rather than the 10,000 proposed by Obama. Stein criticized the Obama administration plan to take up to 18 months to screen refugees as “a bureaucratic nightmare than will only increase pain and suffering.”

Stein said that the US invasions of Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya not only dislocated millions from their homes, but destabilized societies throughout the region. The cost to US taxpayers for the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan alone will amount to more an estimated $5 trillion, including astronomical costs of long term health care for wounded veterans.

The United Nations Refugee Agency estimates that over the course of 2014, over 60 million people worldwide were displaced because of war, violence and extreme poverty. Stein added, “Drought and famine due to climate change – in which the U.S. has also played the major role – also contributed to the Syrian refugee crisis. Climate refugees expected in the next few decades will far outstrip even the war refugees.” 

Two hundred million is the most frequently cited estimate of the number of refugees that will result from climate change by 2050, though some studies put the numbers far higher. The US Secretary of State, John Kerry, recently warned at the climate change gathering in Alaska, “You think migration is a challenge in Europe today because of extremism, wait until you see what happens when there’s an absence of water, an absence of food, or one tribe fighting against another for mere survival.”

Stein concluded, “So to really solve the looming refugee catastrophe, we must end the disastrous use of war as an instrument of foreign policy. And we must phase out fossil fuels by 2030 – in time to actually solve that crisis.”