Speed Reads

Crisis in Syria

Nikki Haley, ignoring Trump's budget, promises Syrian refugees continued U.S. financial support

As President Trump was in Saudi Arabia on Sunday, being treated like royalty, his United Nations ambassador, Nikki Haley, was touring the Zaatari Refugee Camp in Jordan, home to about 80,000 Syrian refugees, half of them children. "We're the No. 1 donor here through this crisis. That's not going to stop. We're not going to stop funding this," Haley said. "The fact that I'm here shows we want to see what else needs to be done." The U.S. is "not pulling back" in the region, she told reporters, but "engaging more," citing Trump's airstrike on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's air base.

Trump has proposed steep cuts to foreign aid, including the United Nations and agencies such as the ones helping refugees from Syria's civil war, and has twice tried to stop all refugees from entering the U.S.; both attempts were blocked by courts, though the second one is being appealed. Haley didn't directly address Trump's budget proposal, saying she knows the funding is "going through the budget process within Congress," and said she supports strengthening the refugee vetting process and noted that all the refugees she spoke with wanted to go back home to Syria, not to the U.S.

Haley has been an unusually outspoken U.N. ambassador serving alongside an unusually taciturn secretary of state, Rex Tillerson. More than 5 million Syrians have fled the country's multifaceted conflict between Assad, the Islamic State, anti-Assad rebels, and various outside partners. "This is all in the name of our Syrian brothers and sisters," Haley told aid workers after inspecting a food convoy. "We want you to feel like the U.S. is behind you."