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U.S. To Accept Up To 8,000 Syrian Refugees Next Year

Syrian refugees at the Midyat refugee camp in Mardin, southeastern Turkey, near the Syrian border in June.
Emrah Gurel

Between 5,000 and 8,000 Syrian refugees will be welcomed into the U.S. next year, officials said Monday.

Calling the U.S. a "leader" in resettling refugees, State Department spokesman John Kirby said the U.N. refugee agency has referred 15,000 Syrian refugees to the U.S., according to AFP News Agency.

More than 4 million Syrians have become homeless since civil war broke out in the country in 2011. Though the U.S. has contributed $4 billion in humanitarian aid to help with refugee resettlement, as of June the country had taken in fewer than 1,000 Syrians.

Kirby said this work was "not the metric of success," instead focusing on how he says the U.S. is helping to bring about reform within Syria so refugees can return to their home country.

"What we're really committed to is helping to foster the kind of political transition inside Syria, so that it is a safe environment for Syrian people to return, including the millions that are seeking refuge in Turkey right now," he said.

In the meantime, though, Syrian refugees are desperate for stability.

NPR's Michele Kelemen reported in June on a Syrian family that made it to the United States in January.

"The Halabi family is among the few who have already made it to the U.S. Their journey to a working-class neighborhood of East Baltimore began in August 2012, when an airstrike hit a hospital in their Damascus neighborhood, killing their newborn son.

"Mohammad al-Halabi and his wife, Linda Jomaa, tear up as they recount that terrible day. A month after they buried their only son, they fled with their five daughters to Lebanon.

"It was hard to find work there, Halabi says. He often had to sell the family's U.N. food rations to pay rent. He worried about his girls' safety.

"So, when his wife heard that it was possible to apply for resettlement in the U.S., they were more than willing to scrounge up money to travel the six hours to and from the U.S. Embassy in Beirut for interviews and security checks."

The Halabis are grateful to live in the United States, but know there are many Syrians who were not as fortunate.

"I feel good that we came here, we moved here and everybody is safe," Jomaa told Michele. "However, still, we have families behind."

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