WASHINGTON, D.C. – On Wednesday, August 7th, President Obama issued a statement in celebration of Eid al-Fitr, the end of Ramadan. The President sent his and the First Lady’s “warmest greetings” to Muslims around the world, and announced his pride to have spent time during the day with American Muslims who were celebrating at the White House.
Mr. Obama recounted that the tradition of breaking the fast of Ramadan is a reminder of one’s blessings and the necessity of compassion for those less fortunate. He then cited Syria, and its millions of refugee citizens who are away from home and loved ones and unable to celebrate Eid al-Fitr in the same way as other Muslims around the world.
Mr. Obama used this opportunity to announce that the United States will be providing an additional $195 million in food and other humanitarian aid to Syria, which will bring U.S. aid contributions to more than $1 billion since the beginning of the crisis in March 2011. President Obama has been criticized for being too slow to provide weapons and military support for the rebels trying to overthrow Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, though additional humanitarian aid announcement does follow the recent approval of a $123 million military aid package for Syria in April, which doubled U.S. non-lethal aid to Syria.
The UN has registered more than 1.6 million Syrian refugees, and anticipates more than 200,000 more that have yet to be registered. By the end of 2013, there is expected to be 3.5 million refugees and an additional 1.9 million people living within the region who will be in desperate need of humanitarian aid.
– Emma McKay