by Molly McKitterick (VOA)
The current tide of refugees overrunning Europe is not just a European problem, “it is a world problem,” President Barack Obama told an audience of U.S. service members Friday.
The president, in a visit to Fort Meade, Maryland, marked the anniversary of the September 11, 2001, terror attacks by answering questions from service members around the world submitted via social media and satellite video.
Obama said the refugee topic would surely come up at the U.N. General Assembly session at the end of this month and that the leaders would “start coming up with a more effective structure for an international response. No one country can solve these problems alone.”
He added that NATO, as the premiere alliance in the world, would have to play a central role.
The president said the only way to solve the refugee crisis was to go to its source.
“There’s the old story about if you see a bunch of bodies floating down a river, part of your job is to pull those folks out and save who you can, but you’ve also got to go upstream and see what exactly is happening,” he said. The source of the refugee river, he said, is the collapse of governance in Syria and the growth of Islamic State.
Obama said the refugee problem would continue for decades because too many states are failing their peoples. In addition, he said, the spread of media gives people in war-torn or poor countries a vision of a better life.
“They are desperate and will take extraordinary risks to get there,” he said.