New United Nations Secretary General António Guterres has reiterated the U.N. position on protecting refugees, joining the chorus of international voices concerned over President Donald Trump’s stance on those seeking help from the United States, and other countries with similar closed-border policies.
“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,” Guterres said in a statement released Tuesday.
Guterres noted that Ethiopia is the largest refugee-hosting country on the continent, and has been so for decades as the East African nation welcomed hundreds of thousands of refugees in “dramatic security situations.” Guterres was in Addis Ababa this week for the African Union Summit.
Stéphane Dujarric, the U.N. spokesman for the secretary general, made clear that Guterres has “had the opportunity to express his disagreement” with the United States Executive Order on refugees. Yet Guterres, who previously served a decade as United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, directed his statement at all nations who are closing their borders on the basis of religion, ethnicity or citizenship.
Guterres warned that such measures might “trigger widespread anxiety and anger that may facilitate the propaganda of the very terrorist organizations we all want to fight against” and that “blind measures, not based on solid intelligence, tend to be ineffective as they risk being bypassed by what are today sophisticated global terrorist movements.”
Speaking Monday at the AU summit, Guterres praised African nations for their role in accepting refugees and expressed his hopes that the U.S. ban will be temporary.
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