In an attempt to shore up his foreign policy bona fides, Republican presidential contender Ben Carson traveled to the Middle East to visit Syrian refugee camps.
The retired neurosurgeon made the surprise visit Saturday because he said he wanted “to come to see with my own eyes this great human tragedy.”
He spoke to The Associated Press via telephone from Jordan and said there doesn’t appear to be a real strong desire on the part of the refugees to come to the United States.
He also pointed out that the refugee camps are not full.
“I did not detect any great desire for them to come to the United States,” Carson said. “You’ve got these refugee camps that aren’t completely full. And all you need is the resources to be able to run them. Why do you need to create something else?”
Under heavy Jordanian security, Carson toured the Azraq camp in northern Jordan and said he did not come away with any more confidence that authorities can successfully screen potential ISIS terrorists among the refugees, the AP reported.
“What I learned is that you’re going to get a different answer from everybody depending on what their slant is,” Carson said.
Noting that some areas had better conditions, such as recreational facilities, schools, electricity and indoor plumbing, Carson said the refugees were “happier” and more willing to stay put.
“All they need is adequate funding. It’s really quite impressive when you go over there and see it,” he told the AP. “They were a lot happier. They were quite willing to stay there as long as it takes before they can get back home.”
Looking past the U.S. government, he called on the American people to launch a “humanitarian drive” to raise the money needed to improve conditions in refugee camps across the Middle East — a sum which may equal billions of dollars, according to officials.
Journalists were barred from the camps … all photos provided by Carson’s campaign.
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