US to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees in 2016 - White House

Syrian refugees. © Yannis Behrakis
The US will take at least 10,000 Syrian refugees in the next fiscal year, which begins in October, following criticism from EU that Washington doesn't do enough. The announcement was made by White House spokesman Josh Earnest.

Fewer than 1,500 Syrian refugees have been resettled in the US so far as Europe is facing tens of thousands running away from the conflict in the Middle East.

The US response to the Syrian refugee crisis has been criticized as "fumbling, feeble" by the chief of the International Rescue Committee (IRC), while the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) recommended the US take 17,000 Syrian refugees for resettlement.

READ MORE: US mulls taking more Syrian refugees, as complaints over lax response to crisis mount

"The administration is actively considering a range of approaches to be more responsive to the global refugee crisis, including with regard to refugee resettlement," Peter Boogaard, spokesman for the White House National Security Council, said Monday.

In 2014, the US accepted only 132 Syrian refugees. Officials in Washington have previously said that the US would accept between 5,000 and 8,000 Syrian refugees over the next year. By contrast, Germany said it would take in 800,000 refugees this year.

READ MORE: 'EU lacks Europe & Union': Juncker announces plan to accept 160k refugees

The current refugee crisis broke out this spring, when tens of thousands of people crossed the Mediterranean Sea in attempt to reach safe havens of Europe, fleeing from war and conflicts in the Middle East. Approximately one third of them are Syrians, according to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), that estimated the number of Syrian refugees in neighboring countries at over 4 million people.

Those who survived the risky and illegal sea transit have flooded coastal countries in their attempt to reach the EU. Many have ignored asylum request rules, often continuing their trek on foot to the wealthier states of Northern Europe, such as Germany and Sweden, causing transportation gridlock in Hungary and at the German-Danish border.