Earlier this month, the number of Syrians that have fled the country since the start of its civil war surpassed 2 million. About 515,000 of them sought shelter in neighboring Jordan. The refugees amount to 10 percent of the kingdom’s population.
As the Syrian conflict continues, refugees could total 20 percent of Jordan’s population by next year, said Jordanian King Abdullah II when he spoke before the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday afternoon. Jordan, he said, is running out of resources for them.
“These are not just numbers; they are people who need food, water, shelter, sanitation, electricity, health care, and more,” he said. “Not even the strongest global economies could absorb this demand on infrastructure and resources, let alone a small economy and the fourth water-poorest country in the world.”
The king thanked the U.N. and regional and international donors for their help, but asked for more assistance from world powers, calling the Syrian crisis a “global humanitarian and security disaster” and declaring, “I say here and now that my people cannot be asked to shoulder the burden of what is a regional and global challenge.”
In his speech to the General Assembly on Tuesday morning, President Obama pledged to provide an additional $339 million in humanitarian aid to the Syrian refugee crisis, with more than $48 million allocated for Jordan. This brings the total U.S. contribution since the Syrian civil war began in 2011 to more than $1.3 billion.
Paul Stromberg, head of U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees operations in Jordan, told Stars and Stripes on Sunday, “If we have an influx of, say, 50,000 people right now, that would basically wipe [us] out. It would be catastrophic from a budget perspective.”
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President Obama has said he’ll nominate John King to fill out the last few months of Obama’s presidency as Secretary of Education. King has been in an acting secretary role since Arne Duncan stepped down in December. The White House is pressuring the Senate to act quickly on the nomination.
Bernie Sanders supporters aren’t taking this whole superdelegate thing lying down. Despite a tie a blowout win against Hillary Clinton, Sanders trails her by some 350 delegates in the overall count, thanks mostly to superdelegates pledging to support her. His backers have taken to creating a MoveOn.org petition to pressure the superdelegates to be flexible. It reads: “Commit to honoring the voters—let everyone know that you won’t allow your vote to defeat our votes. Announce that in the event of a close race, you’ll align yourself with regular voters—not party elites.” So far it’s attracted 162,000 signatures.
House Speaker Paul Ryan today is trying to convince his large but divided conference that they need to pass a budget under regular order. “Conservatives are revolting against higher top-line spending levels negotiated last fall by President Obama and Ryan’s predecessor, then-Speaker John Boehner (R-OH). GOP centrists are digging in on the other side, pledging to kill any budget that deviates from the two-year, bipartisan budget deal.” Ryan’s three options are to lower the budget numbers to appease the Freedom Caucus, “deem” a budget and move on to the appropriations process, or “preserve Obama-Boehner levels, but seek savings elsewhere.”
“A bill headed for President Barack Obama this week includes a provision that would ban U.S. imports of fish caught by slaves in Southeast Asia, gold mined by children in Africa and garments sewn by abused women in Bangladesh, closing a loophole in an 85-year-old tariff law.” The Senate approved the bill, which would also ban Internet taxes and overhaul trade laws, by a vote of 75-20. It now goes to President Obama.
Bernie Sanders has closed to within seven points of Hillary Clinton in a new Morning Consult survey. Clinton leads 46%-39%. Consistent with the New Hampshire voting results, Clinton does best with retirees, while Sanders leads by 20 percentage points among those under 30. On the Republican side, Donald Trump is far ahead with 44% support. Trailing by a huge margin are Ted Cruz (17%), Ben Carson (10%) and Marco Rubio (10%).