On Tuesday, 12 July 2016, Ambassador Mehdiyev attended the Eid-al-Fitr reception, hosted by US Secretary of State John Kerry at the State Department in Washignton DC. On that occasion, he met and interacted with a number of officials from the State Department, members of the diplomatic community of Washington DC, in addition to a number of Muslim figures and community leaders attending the reception.
In his welcoming remarks, Secretary of State John Kerry announced that the US will meet its target of settling 10,000 Syrian refugees in the United States by the time fiscal year 2016 ends on September 30.
He said: “Tonight, I can announce proudly that we will meet President Obama’s goal of welcoming 10,000 Syrian refugees to the United States in the current fiscal year”, adding that “Those are refugees, which is different from normal process of migration and green card and becoming a citizen and so forth. It’s a very different category, and it’s also representing six-fold increase over what we did the year before.”
In his remarks, Secretary Kerry, moreover, announced that the U.S. would immediately be contributing another $439 million to help Syrian refugees and internally displaced people – “in addition to the $5.1 billion in humanitarian assistance that we have already provided since the start of the Syrian civil war.” This new funding brings U.S. humanitarian assistance in response to this conflict to nearly $5.6 billion since the start of the crisis. “I’m proud to say that the United States is by far the largest contributor of emergency aid, but we all recognize that still more needs to be done,” he said. “More needs to be done to help those who are besieged inside Syria. More has to be done to assist refugees,” he added. He also emphasized that more has to be done to support Syria’s neighbors (Lebanon, Jordan, and Turkey) and “more to resolve this brutal conflict that has cost far too many lives and forced far too many people from their homes.”
The reception was attended by Mandy Patinkin, the well-known American actor and comedian, who shared with the attendees his experience in helping the Syrian refugees. Speaking against anti-Muslim rhetoric, he said that he sees America and its values in helping the Syrian refugees and welcoming them to the US, which is a country of refugees. There were also video remarks by London Mayor Sadiq Khan.