November 10, 2018

U.S. must abide by humanitarian refugee accords, says UN

The Cameroonian refugees

The Cameroonian refugees

New York – The UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), has said that the U.S. must abide by international refugee protection accords.

A Rohingya refugee girl looks next to newly arrived refugees who fled to Bangladesh from Myanmar in Ukhiya on September 6, 2017.
More than 125,000 refugees have flooded across the border into Bangladesh. Most are Rohingya, a Muslim ethnic minority that the government of Buddhist-majority Myanmar largely does not recognise as citizens. / AFP PHOTO

The UN refugee agency stated this in response to U.S. President Donald Trump’s proclamation, which would deny political asylum to migrants crossing illegally into the country.

The Presidential Proclamation by Trump would ban migrants applying for asylum outside official ports of entry.

This would impact migrants attempting to illegally enter the country from the southern border with Mexico, while legal challenges were expected to follow the move.

The refugee agency noted that among the people in Central America and Mexico on the move towards the U.S., many were fleeing life-threatening violence or persecution and are in need of international protection.

“UNHCR expects all countries, including the United States, to make sure any person in need of refugee protection and humanitarian assistance is able to receive both promptly and without obstruction, in accordance with the 1967 refugee Protocol to which the United States is a party,” the agency said.

UNHCR pointed out that it was unrealistic to expect all asylum seekers to present themselves at the border and request protection.

According to the refugee agency, the reality of refugee plight is complex and requires management in a structured way with dignified reception arrangements.

Official U.S. southern border ports of entry have had a long-standing lack of sufficient capacity to receive migrants, which is forcing many vulnerable asylum-seekers to turn in desperation to smugglers and cross the border irregularly.

UNHCR said many asylum-seeking families who were making this desperate choice, were not trying to evade border authorities.

The agency offered to support the United States, to guarantee that any person fleeing life-threatening violence or persecution is able to reach safe ground and is able to have their claim reviewed.

The UN refugee agency stressed that national security and dignified reception of refugees and asylum-seekers were not mutually exclusive, but rather mutually reinforcing. (NAN)