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The Obama administration is considering resettling thousands of refugees who left Syria during the country’s ongoing civil war to multiple towns and cities across the United States, the L.A. Times reports.

A resettlement plan under discussion in Washington and other capitals is aimed at relieving pressure on Middle Eastern countries straining to support 1.6 million refugees, as well as assisting hard-hit Syrian families.

The State Department is “ready to consider the idea,” an official from the department said, if the administration receives a formal request from the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees, which is the usual procedure.

The United States usually accepts about half the refugees that the U.N. agency proposes for resettlement. California has historically taken the largest share, but Illinois, Florida, Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia are also popular destinations.

U.N. refugee officials, along with diplomats and non-governmental relief groups, are scheduled to meet in Geneva this week to discuss potential resettlement plans. Germany has already agreed to take 5,000 refugees.

“It was probably inevitable that in this crisis, with these overwhelming numbers, governments would start moving in this direction,” Lavinia Limon, chief executive officer of the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, a Virginia-based advocacy and service group, told the L.A. Times. Limon added, “But there will be resistance.”

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