UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said here on Wednesday that the US travel ban imposed on refugees and immigrants from seven Middle East and North African countries “is not the way to best protect the US or any other country,” voicing his hope that “this measure should be removed sooner rather than later”.
The secretary-general made the remarks in response to a question as he was briefing reporters here on his travel to Ethiopia, where he attended an African Union summit, Xinhua reported.
In the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa on Monday, Guterres commended African countries for opening their borders to refugees and people fleeing violence while other parts of the world, including the developed West, close boundaries and build walls.
“In my opinion, this is not the way to best protect the US or any other country in relation to the serious concerns that existed about the possibility of terrorist infiltration,” he said. “I don’t think this is the effective way to do so.”
“What was lacking was a capacity to have a comprehensive approach to the problem,” he said of the US ban, adding that it is very important to review “the very dramatic situations the refugees are facing when they have no chance to reach protection.”
“And I think this measure should be removed sooner, rather than later,” the UN chief said.
On Tuesday, the secretary-general issued a statement via his spokesman, saying that refugees fleeing conflict and persecution are entitled to protection, and he expressed concern at decisions around the world that have undermined the integrity of the international refugee protection regime.
“Refugees fleeing conflict and persecution are finding more and more borders closed and increasingly restricted access to the protection they need and are entitled to receive, according to international refugee law,” the statement said.
Under the executive order signed by President Donald Trump last Friday, refugees from all over the world will be denied US entry for 120 days while all immigration from so-called “countries with terrorism concerns” will be suspended for 90 days. The countries included in the ban are Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen.