Aid is vital to prevent conflicts from arising, the panel argued, because like the complex problems, the aid itself covers many different areas – anti-extremism programs, job training for youth, education, aid to farmers, and many other areas of development. Private-sector investment in developing countries can create jobs and provide wealth to fight economic inequality which can be another cause of social unrest.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) asked Clements how much of UNHCR's refugee assistance came from the U.S. government. It was about 35 percent of the 2015 budget, she answered.
U.S. international disaster assistance would be cut by 30 percent, Graham warned, and asked Clements how such a cut would affect UNHCR. It would be "nearly impossible for us to meet immediate needs," she answered.
Yet along with funding shortfalls for international aid, there is also the refugee problem. The overall number of refugees able to return to their homes fell to its lowest level in decades, underscoring the long-term nature of these conflicts, Clements added, and placing families and persons in indefinite situations of economic and social difficulty.
And refugee crises, once they happen, don't go away overnight, Bono insisted, noting that a typical refugee crisis lasts 25 years. The world is already full of refugees, as the number of refugees is at its highest total since World War II.
Border closures and "policies that prevent or discourage asylum seekers" have manifested an "unprecedented attack on the ability" of refugees to obtain the legal protections they need, Clements insisted. For example, in her recent trip to Serbia when the borders closed there, thousands of refugees were "trapped in countries, unsure of their futures."
It is critical to remember that "refugees are the victims, and not the perpetrators of violence and extremism," she insisted.
Sen. Graham asked Gen. Jones about the border policies of countries surrounding Syria. Turkey stopped accepting refugees, and Jordan and Lebanon cut down their acceptance quota. "The people in Syria are trapped. There is no place to go," Sen. Graham stated.
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