US wants UN to raise refugee aid by a third to $19 billion: Kerry

US Secretary of State John Kerry delivers a speech at the 2016 World Economic Forum.
US Secretary of State John Kerry delivers a speech at the 2016 World Economic Forum.PHOTO: REUTERS

DAVOS (Reuters) - The United States wants the United Nations to raise funding for refugees this year by 30 per cent to US$13 billion (S$18.56 billion) and says it will ask for the extra cash at a summit to be hosted by President Barack Obama in September.

US Secretary of State John Kerry said the goal of the meeting, to be held on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, would also be to at least double the number of refugees who are resettled or let in to other countries.

"This summit will be the culmination of a sustained, rigorous effort to rally the world community," Kerry said in a speech to the World Economic Forum in Davos.

He said it would also seek to get 10 more countries to help with the crisis and try to get a million refugee children into schools and a million refugees working legally.

"The private sector, civil society and religious organisations will also be called on to help integrate refugees into host communities socially, academically and through access to employment," Kerry said.

The United Nations said last month that the number of people forcibly displaced worldwide was likely to have "far surpassed"a record 60 million in 2015, mainly driven by the Syrian war and other protracted conflicts.

The estimated figure includes 20.2 million refugees fleeing wars and persecution, the most since 1992, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said in a report.

It said nearly 2.5 million asylum seekers have requests pending, with Germany, Russia and the United States receiving the highest numbers of the nearly one million new claims lodged in the first half of the year.

In his speech, Kerry attacked governmental corruption, saying it cost the global economy as much as US$2.6 trillion a year, fuelled militancy and demoralised populations. He cited Syria, Iraq, Nigeria and Ukraine as examples.

"We must deepen the fight against corruption - making it a first-order, national-security priority," he said, noting that it was imperative that the business community demand higher standards of behaviour in dealings with governments.

A US State Department statement said it would announce "significant new commitments" to help meet the new funding goal over the coming months and would "strongly encourage other nations to do the same".

Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel discussed Europe's refugee crisis on Thursday and agreed to work together in the coming months to help protect and provide for millions of war refugees, the White House said.