UN urges Trump to keep door open for refugees


UNITED NATIONS, Jan 28 (APP): Two United Nations humanitarian agencies on Saturday urged the administration of US President Donald Trump to continue providing asylum to vulnerable people, a day after the new leader signed an order severely restricting access to asylum for people fleeing war and persecution.
“The needs of refugees and migrants worldwide have never been greater, and the US resettlement programme is one of the most important in the world,” a joint statement from the UN refugee agency UNHCR and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said.
The statement voiced the hope that the United States would “continue its strong leadership role and long tradition of protecting those who are fleeing conflict and persecution,” saying that the “longstanding US policy of welcoming refugees has created a win win situation” by saving people who then “enriched … their new societies.”
The agencies said they believed “refugees should receive equal
treatment for protection and assistance, and opportunities for
resettlement, regardless of their religion, nationality or race.”
The order signed by Trump on Friday immediately blocked all those fleeing Syria, where a bloody civil war has cost hundreds of thousands
of lives. It also imposed a 90 day ban on entry to the US from seven Muslim majority countries.
UNHCR and IOM said that they remained committed to working with the
US administration towards a shared goal of ensuring “safe and secure resettlement and immigration programs”.
Resettlement places provided by every country for vulnerable refugees, some of whom require special medical treatment not available in their first country of asylum, are vital, the agencies said. More than 30 countries take part in the programme, which starts with vetting by the UNHCR.
Some 25,000 refugees were resettled in the United States between
October and year end under UNHCR’s programme for the most vulnerable, the agency said on Friday.
A host of U.S. federal government agencies are involved and extensive background checks are carried out, UNHCR spokeswoman Vannina Maestracci
told a briefing.
“I think it’s fair to say that refugees coming into the United States
to be resettled are some of the most vetted individuals entering the United States,” she said.
At the same time, however, Trump told CBN News that Christians would receive priority when applying for refugee status.
The US may admit refugees on a case by case basis during the freeze, while those claiming religious persecution can continue to have their applications for asylum process if “the religion of the individual is a minority religion in the individual’s country.”
Trump justified the moves as necessary to prevent “radical Islamic terrorists” from entering the US.
The executive order has been heavily criticized in the US itself, with many Democrats slating the measures as “un American.” “Tears are running down the cheeks of the Statue of Liberty tonight as a grand tradition of America, welcoming immigrants, that has existed since America was founded has been stomped upon,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York said in a statement.