UN ‘alarmed’ at impact of US refugee programme suspension

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SHAFAQNA – The United Nations’ refugee agency chief has said he is “deeply worried” by the precarious situation facing thousands of displaced people due to the suspension of the United States’ refugee programme last week.

Filippo Grandi, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, expressed his concern on Monday, while also reiterating the stance of his office [UNHCR], which is that refugees should receive equal treatment for protection and resettlement regardless of race, religion or nationality.

UNHCR reports that over 800 refugees who were set to resettle in America were barred from travelling to the US this week alone.

The refugee agency further estimates that around 20,000 refugees might have been resettled in the US during the 120-day suspension of the refugee programme enacted by President Donald Trump‘s executive order on Friday.

“Refugees are anxious, confused and heartbroken at this suspension in what is already a lengthy process,” a UNHCR press release said.

“Refugees share the very same concerns about security and safety that Americans have,” it added. “They themselves are fleeing war, persecution, oppression and terrorism.”

The UN’s children’s agency, UNICEF, also expressed its concern that the new US policy on refugees may adversely impact children fleeing conflict and disaster.

“The needs of refugees have never been greater,” a UNICEF statement said. “Worldwide 28 million children have been uprooted by conflict, driven from their homes by violence and terror. They need our help.”

The UN’s statements of concern come amid a growing international movement that has mobilised to oppose Trump’s new immigration controls, which also includes a 90-day ban on immigration to the US from seven predominantly Muslim countries.

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