U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s announcement of a refugee ceiling of 30,000 is appalling, and it continues this administration’s rapid flight from the proud U.S. tradition of providing refuge to those fleeing persecution around the world.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Washington, D.C. (February 22, 2018) – On the eve of Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump, Refugees International welcomes the decision of the Trump Administration to resettle refugees transferred by the Australian Government into detention in Papua New Guinea and Nauru. Under the current arrangement, the U.S. has reportedly agreed to take up to 1,250 of the refugees. To date, more than 100 have arrived in the United States.
We encourage the Trump administration to expand this important humanitarian resettlement program, as permitted in the agreement between Australia and the United States, so that the nearly 2400 asylum-seekers currently impacted by Australia’s transfer policy could obtain the durable solution of U.S. resettlement.
At the same time, we are deeply disturbed by Australian practices regarding asylum seekers arriving by sea. Under these practices, asylum-seekers have either been interdicted at sea and summarily returned, often to countries of origin, or transferred into detention in Nauru and Papua New Guinea pursuant to Australia’s so-called “Pacific Solution” policy.
As refugee protections erode around the world, the Government of Australia should not become a leader in the international race to the bottom. But recent practices raise serious concerns that this is precisely what is occurring.
Asylum-seekers approaching Australia by sea are denied proper screening procedures that would ensure against return to countries of origin or other countries that may not guarantee necessary protection. And in the so-called off-shore processing centers in Nauru and Papua New Guinea, asylum-seekers have suffered arbitrary and indefinite detention, risks to their personal security, inadequate healthcare - including the failure to address trauma and other mental health concerns - and inadequate sanitary facilities. These and other concerns have been identified and documented by a range of credible international observers.
For these reasons, Refugees International strongly encourages the Trump Administration to expand its current resettlement arrangements with Australia – to ensure durable solutions that end the suffering of the affected populations.
In the absence of such action by the United States government, the government of Australia cannot in good conscience – or consistent with its obligations under international refugee law – continue with this off-shore arrangement, and must itself provide resettlement for those who have suffered so significantly.
For interviews with RI President Eric Schwartz please contact Hardin Lang, Vice President for Programs and Policy, at (202) 378-8995 or at email@example.com.
Refugees International (RI) advocates for lifesaving assistance and protection for displaced people and promotes solutions to displacement crises. We are an independent organization, and do not accept any government or UN funding. For more information, visit www.refugeesinternational.org.
Refugees International welcomes the Senate Foreign Relations Committee passage of S.2060, the Burma Human Rights and Freedom Act. This bipartisan legislation is a critical step forward in demanding accountability for the ethnic cleansing that has taken place in Burma (also known as Myanmar).
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Leading Humanitarian Organizations Object to Trump Administration Plans to Cut U.S. Contributions to the UN Relief Agency for Palestinians
Washington, D.C. – Today, the leaders of 21 leading organizations involved in international humanitarian response sent a letter to the Trump Administration objecting “in the strongest terms” to the U.S. decision to withhold $65 million in planned U.S. contributions to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA).
In the letter (see the full letter text below), the humanitarian leaders write, “We are deeply concerned by the humanitarian consequences of this decision on life-sustaining assistance to children, women and men in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, and the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Whether it is emergency food aid, access to primary healthcare, access to primary education, or other critical support to vulnerable populations, there is no question that these cuts, if maintained, will have dire consequences.”
The letter was sent to United States Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster, and Secretary of Defense James Mattis.
Eric Schwartz, president of Refugees International and former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees and Migration, said, “As reflected in comments by Ambassador Nikki Haley, this decision is aimed at punishing Palestinian political leaders and forcing them to make political concessions. But it is wrong to punish political leaders by denying life-sustaining aid to civilians. This is a dangerous and striking departure from U.S. policy on international humanitarian assistance which conflicts starkly with values that U.S. administrations and the American people have embraced. ”
Joel Charny, director of Norwegian Refugee Council USA and co-organizer of the letter with Refugees International, added, "It has been U.S. policy for decades that 'a hungry child knows no politics,' as President Reagan stated to justify U.S. assistance to famine-affected Ethiopia in 1984. Aid to save lives and alleviate suffering should be provided solely on the basis of need and there is no justification for violating this principle in the case of Palestinians civilians."
The letter to the Trump Administration concludes: “(I)t is deeply troubling to witness such a casual disregard of principles that have been crucial to U.S. policy deliberations over many decades. We hope sincerely that you will reconsider this unfortunate decision, which we believe undermines critically important values as well as U.S. leadership around the world.”
For interviews with Refugees International President Eric Schwartz, please contact Gail Chalef, Senior Communication Officer at either +202-540-7026 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For interviews with Norwegian Refugee Council USA Director Joel Charny, please contact Basma Alloush, Advocacy and Communications Officer, at +1-617-966-0333 or at email@example.com.
The leaders of 21 leading organizations involved in international humanitarian response sent a letter to the Trump Administration objecting “in the strongest terms” to the U.S. decision to withhold $65 million in planned U.S. contributions to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). The letter was sent to United States Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster, and Secretary of Defense James Mattis.
With the news that Myanmar and Bangladesh have reached an agreement on the return of the 600,000 Rohingya, Refugees International underlines several significant concerns about the terms of repatriation. Before any steps are undertaken, a number of safeguards must be put in place.
Refugees International President Eric Schwarz reacts to recent comments reliably attributed to the President of the United States, in which the President suggested that country of nationality, in and of itself, should impact eligibility for immigration to the United States. Schwartz underlines that this would depart from long-held U.S. policy and core values of the United States.
The Trump Administration has decided to terminate Temporary Protected Status (TPS) designation for El Salvador. As a result, the fate of some 200,000 Salvadorans currently living in the United States is now in question, as is the status of nearly 200,000 of their American citizen children. The Salvadorans now have just 18 months to leave the United States, unless Congress takes action.
Refugees International President Eric Schwartz welcomes President Trump’s statement this week on the Yemen blockade, but the President’s words must be turned into immediate action as the blockade continues and millions of Yemeni lives are at stake.
Refugees International President Eric Schwartz issues a statement as the United States announced its decision to end its participation in the effort to develop a Global Compact on Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration. Schwartz states that the U.S. decision is irresponsible and will limit U.S. capacity to influence a critical international discussion.
Refugees International welcomes Secretary of State Tillerson’s October 18 statement on the Rohingya crisis in Myanmar, and, in particular, his comment that “the world can’t just stand idly by and be witness to the atrocities being reported in the area.” But in fact, the world can stand idly by, as can the United States, and for nearly two months, that is largely what has occurred.
During his upcoming address to the United Nations General Assembly, President Donald Trump must demand strong measures to end the ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity being perpetrated by the Myanmar military against the Rohingya people, especially in light of the escalated violence over the past three weeks.
A bipartisan group of former senior U.S. officials today urged Secretary of State Tillerson to ensure that two State Department reports on the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program, where were mandated by President Trump, contain key elements to ensure the reports contribute to responsible policy making. The President’s directive requires that Secretary Tillerson prepare two reports within 180 days – an estimate of the long-term costs of the United States Refugee Admissions Program and an estimate of the number of refugees being supported in countries of first asylum for the same long-term cost as supporting refugees resettled in the United States.
Refugees International expresses its outrage and deeply sadness with the news that seven members of the Syrian Civil Defense (the White Helmets) were killed in a recent attack. The White Helmets are an extraordinary humanitarian organization that provides a beacon of hope for Syrians caught up in the brutal conflict.
As President Trump welcomes Lebanese Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri to Washington, DC, the situation of Syrian refugees in Lebanon must be a prominent and urgent point on their discussion agenda – and we urge that both leaders affirm a commitment to respect the rights of Syrian refugees.
On July 18, 2017, Refugees International President Eric Schwartz testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Multilateral International Development and Multilateral Institutions at a hearing, titled, "The Four Famines: Root Causes and a Multilateral Action Plan." In his testimony, Schwartz focused on the factors leading to famine conditions in Yemen, Somalia, South Sudan, and Nigeria.
Refugees International strongly urges the U.S. government to postpone the permanent lifting of sanctions on Sudan, pending further progress by Sudan’s government on international humanitarian access and four other objectives described in Executive Order 13761 from January 2017.