In a blog post
, White House Director of Product Joshua Miller compared the Kickstarter campaign to 19th-century American crowdfunding efforts that helped erect the Statue of Liberty.
"In the summer of 1885, hundreds of thousands of Americans — from street cleaners and politicians, to young children and businessmen — united to donate small sums of money to a common cause. Collectively, they raised $2.5 million (in today's dollars) to build a base for the Statue of Liberty, which had arrived in New York in pieces," Miller wrote.
"Just like we banded together in 1885, we can join together to provide shelter, food, and medical assistance to these people in need. It’s the American thing to do," Miller said.
Unlike migrants, who mostly emigrate for economic reasons, refugees are fleeing emergency situations
in their home countries and cannot go back. They are some of the world's most desperate people, and more than half of them are children, according to the UNHCR. Many refugees have only days or hours to flee their homes, and are forced to bring only one small bag
with them on what can be a perilous journey.
Some 12 million people have been displaced by the ongoing civil war in Syria, according to the UNHCR. That number is roughly the same as the populations of Los Angeles and New York City combined, Miller wrote. In addition to crowdfunding efforts, the U.S. said it plans to accept
10,000 Syrian refugees over the next year.
While refugees arriving in Hungary
and other parts of Europe from Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan have made headlines, there are refugees facing desperate circumstances around the world. The world's third-largest refugee camp is located in the African nation of Tanzania. The camp is the temporary home of more than 93,000 refugees, many of them women,
who have fled violence and civil unrest in Burundi.