On Friday, President Trump put a four-month hold on allowing refugees into the United States, as well as temporarily barring travelers from Syria and six other Muslim countries. He said that these moves would help protect Americans from terrorist attacks.
The two Geneva-based agencies said in a joint statement, “The needs of refugees and migrants worldwide have never been greater and the U.S. resettlement program is one of the most important in the world.”
Saying that his administration needs time to develop more stringent screening processes for refugees, immigrants and visitors, Trump halted the entry of travelers from Syria and the six other nations: Iraq, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen, for at least 90 days.
IOM and UNHCR stated that they remain committed to working with the U.S. administration towards a shared goal of ensuring “safe and secure resettlement and immigration programmes.” They said, “We strongly believe that refugees should receive equal treatment for protection and assistance, and opportunities for resettlement, regardless of their religion, nationality or race.”
Resettlement places provided by more than 30 countries for vulnerable refugees, some of whom require special medical treatment not available in their first country of asylum, are vital, the agencies said. Vetting is begun by the UNHCR.
The agencies voiced their hope “the U.S. will continue its strong leadership role and long tradition of protecting those who are fleeing conflict and persecution.”
Under the UNHCR’s programme for the most vulnerable, some 25,000 refugees were resettled in the United States between October and year-end, the agency said on Friday.
extensive background checks are carried out by a host of U.S. federal government agencies, 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.
Spokesman Joel Millman said that the IOM wants migration to be legal, safe and secure for all, including for destination countries,
“So we hope 90 days is a temporary time and we stand ready to assist any way we can,” Millman told Reuters Television. “We’re concerned that any delay might force some people to start from the beginning, but generally speaking it’s a long, long process and probably 90 days is something most people will be willing to wait because they have been waiting years already.”