Mass Atrocities, Refugees and US President Trump’s Travel Ban
On 27 January US President Donald J. Trump issued an executive order banning all refugees, migrants and visitors from seven Muslim-majority countries – Libya, Iran, Iraq, Sudan, Syria, Somalia and Yemen. The discriminatory ban also halts the United States refugee program for an initial period of 120 days, preventing the resettlement of people who are fleeing war and persecution in countries where atrocities are occurring or have previously taken place. The ban includes previously vetted refugees who have survived genocide in Iraq, war crimes in Yemen, or crimes against humanity in Syria.
For years the United States has been the world’s top resettlement country for refugees, accepting nearly 85,000 refugees in 2016 alone. Resettlement programs allow long-term refugees to get out of temporary camps, where they have often spent years, and start to rebuild their lives with access to similar civil rights as those enjoyed by nationals. Refugees can not apply for resettlement, nor choose a country to resettle in, but are selected for eligibility by the UN. Refugees who are selected for potential resettlement to the United States are then scrupulously vetted by eight Federal Agencies, six different security databases, and subjected to rigorous background checks, interviews and biometric testing. For this reason, the process of refugee resettlement takes several years.
UNHCR facilitated the resettlement of more than 140,000 people in 2016, more than half of whom were from Syria. The majority of refugees entering the United States in 2016 were resettled after fleeing persecution and/or conflict the Democratic Republic of the Congo (16,370), Syria (12,587), Myanmar (12,347) and Iraq (9,880).
Raising concern for the thousands of refugees affected by President Trump’s ban, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees has noted that, “refugees should receive equal treatment for protection and assistance, and opportunities for resettlement, regardless of their religion, nationality or race.”
For background regarding the threat of atrocities facing populations from countries affected by President Trump’s ban, click on the maps.
UNHCR provides additional statistics regarding refugee resettlement in the United States here.
See also the Global Centre’s “Statement on United States President Trump’s ‘Extreme Vetting’ of Refugees.”
*Data on refugees and IDPs was derived from UNHCR’s Country Pages, UNHCR’s Global Trends Report and OCHA.
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