Monday, January 30, 2017 3:20 pm
U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to stop resettlement of Syrian refugees will cost lives, medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), also known as Doctors without Borders, said in a statement on Monday.
The Jason Cone, Executive Director of MSF-U.S., said the president’s executive order would effectively keep people trapped in war zones, directly endangering their lives.
“Slamming shut the doors to the United States of America, which has rigorously vetted refugees for years, is an attack on the basic accepted notion that people should be able to flee for their lives.
“Every day our teams on the ground see people desperately seeking safety at closed borders and in war zones from which they cannot flee,” he said.
The UN refugee agency UNHCR said 4.9 million Syrians are refugees in neighbouring countries, while almost a million have fled to Europe, and over 6 million are displaced within their own country.
During the election campaign, Trump decried former President Barack Obama’s decision to increase the number of Syrian refugees admitted to the U.S. over fears that some fleeing the country’s civil war might carry out attacks.
UNHCR said on Friday that some 25,000 refugees were resettled in the U.S. between October and December under UNHCR’s programme for the most vulnerable.
Trump’s administration has banned entry of refugees and people from seven Muslim-majority countries, drawing criticism even from some prominent Republicans and protests that drew tens of thousands in major American cities.
On Sunday, his administration tempered the ban by saying people who hold so-called green cards as lawful permanent U.S. residents would not be blocked.
Apart from Syria, the affected countries are Somalia, Sudan, Iran, Iraq, Yemen and Libya.
UNHCR and the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) said in a joint statement on Saturday that the U.S. resettlement programme was vital, but they stopped short of criticising the new administration’s policy.
However, nobody at UNHCR or IOM was immediately available to comment. (Reuters/NAN)