After touring Syrian refugee camps in Jordan, Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson on Saturday suggested that camps should serve as a long-term solution for millions, while other refugees could be absorbed by Middle Eastern countries.
"I did not detect any great desire for them to come to the United States," Carson told The Associated Press in a phone interview from Jordan. "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?"
The retired neurosurgeon toured the Azraq camp in northern Jordan under heavy Jordanian security, with journalists barred. Carson's campaign also limited access, not providing his itinerary.
After the Azraq visit, Carson said he didn't learn anything that gives him confidence in authorities' ability to screen potential terrorists. "What I learned is that you're going to get a different answer from everybody depending on what their slant is," he said, reiterating his opposition to allowing any Syrian refugees to come to the United States.
"I always oppose doing unnecessary things, particularly dangerous and costly unnecessary things," he said.
Carson called on the American people — not the U.S. government — to launch a "humanitarian drive" to raise billions of dollars that officials say is needed to improve conditions for refugees settled across several countries in the Middle East.
"All they need is adequate funding. It's really quite impressive when you go over there and see it," Carson told the AP, adding that some areas had recreational facilities, schools, electricity and indoor plumbing. "They were a lot happier. They were quite willing to stay there as long as it takes before they can get back home."
Carson's visit comes as he tries to strengthen his fluency on international affairs as foreign policy becomes a greater focus in the 2016 presidential contest. Advisers have conceded that his knowledge of global affairs isn't where it needs to be and have expressed hope that missions like his two-day trip to Jordan will help.
Carson and other Republicans have adopted a harsh tone when discussing President Barack Obama's plan to welcome 10,000 Syrian refugees to the U.S. in this budget year. Debate over Syrians fleeing their war-torn country erupted after a series of attacks in Paris earlier this month that raised security concerns across the West.