U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres says he hopes the United States will soon put protecting refugees back high on its agenda, following an executive order by President Donald Trump banning refugee entry for 120 days.
“The U.S. has a large tradition of refugee protection, and I strongly hope that measures that were taken will be only temporary,” Guterres told reporters at an African Union conference Monday in Addis Ababa.
Guterres, the U.N.’s former refugee chief, said it is “absolutely essential to guarantee” the protection of refugees.
Current U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi said Monday people are “anxious, confused, and heartbroken” after being told they cannot come to the U.S. after having undergone a lengthy application process.
Grandi said in a statement from his Geneva office that he is “deeply worried” about what will happen to thousands affected by Presided Donald Trump’s temporary ban on resettlement.
“Refugees share the very same concerns about security and safety that Americans have,” the statement says. “They themselves are fleeing war, persecution, oppression and terrorism.”
The UNHCR estimates that 20,000 refugees in “precarious circumstances” would have been able to come to the U.S. during the 120-day period that refugees are barred.
The commissioner says he hopes they will be able to come to the U.S. and rebuild their lives in safety and dignity as soon as possible.
Also Monday, the U.N. Children’s Fund said 28 million children worldwide whose lives have been destroyed by violence and terror need help.
The United States has a “long and proud tradition of protecting children,” it said, adding that it hopes the ban on refugees will, in fact, be temporary.