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Charity worker says Middle East refugees need help, supplies

Migrants wait to register with the police at the refugee center in the southern Serbian town of Presevo, Monday, Nov. 16, 2015. Refugees fleeing war by the tens of thousands fear the Paris attacks could prompt Europe to close its doors, especially after police said a Syrian passport found next to one attacker's body suggested its owner passed through Greece into the European Union and on through Macedonia and Serbia last month. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)

PHOENIX — While the world debates taking in Syrian refugees, many are in need of both help and supplies, an aid worker said Wednesday.

“The vast majority of refugees are living in inadequate shelters — either in shacks or in unfinished buildings,” Lucas with Arizona-based Food for the Hungry said.

Lucas, who would not give his last name, is based in Beirut, Lebanon. About a 1.5 million Syrian refugees are in Lebanon, with millions of others in other bordering countries, such as Turkey and Jordan.

He said refugees are in need of blankets, heaters and food in preparation for the upcoming winter.

“[The Middle East] is the place where people need to help,” Lucas said. “The vast majority would like to stay in the region and go back to Syria if at all possible in the future.

Lucas said, with international assistance being cut, there is need for winter items and education for children.

Arizona is one of dozens of states that have moved to block refugees from entering in the wake of the Paris terror attacks that left more than 120 dead and nearly triple that number injured.

“Given the horrifying events in Paris last week, I am calling for an immediate halt in the placement of any new refugees in Arizona,” Gov. Doug Ducey said in a press release.

Many states began to object to accepting Syrian refugees after it was revealed one Paris attacker had a Syrian passport, and the Paris prosecutors’ office said fingerprints from the attacker match those of someone who passed through Greece in October.

Millions of Syrians have fled to neighboring Middle Eastern countries and Europe, and President Barack Obama’s administration has pledged to accept about 10,000 Syrian refugees in the next 12 months. The U.S. State Department said the refugees would be spread across the country. Republican presidential candidates have criticized the plan.

In response to the calls from governors to prevent Syrian refugees from coming to their states, Lavinia Limon, president and CEO of the U.S Committee for Refugees and Immigration, said under the Refugee Act of 1980 governors cannot legally block refugees from settling in their communities.

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