“We all have a moral obligation to help. Refugee children have been terrorised; they are not terrorists”

By: Emma Batha

LONDON, Jan 27 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Aid agencies urged the United States not to turn its back on refugees as President Donald Trump prepared to sign an executive order on Friday to temporarily halt arrivals from some Muslim-majority nations.

“We all have a moral obligation to help. Refugee children have been terrorised; they are not terrorists,” Carolyn Miles, head of Save the Children, said in a statement.

“The United States should continue to show leadership and share in our global responsibility to provide refuge to the most vulnerable, regardless of religion or nationality.”

The International Rescue Committee (IRC) called on the administration “to think again” and not act in haste.

“At a time of record-breaking levels of refugee flow around the world, now is not the time for America to renounce its historic leadership role,” said IRC head David Miliband.

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Experts say more than half the world’s 21.3 million refugees are children.

Trump’s expected shakeup of refugee policy comes at a time when the world is facing its largest displacement crisis since the Second World War, exacerbated by conflict in Syria and Iraq.

Miles said the United States had long been “a beacon of hope” for families trying to escape war and persecution. Nearly every refugee family she had met had told her the main reason for fleeing was so that their children could have a future.

“Now is not the time to turn our back on these families, or our core American values, by banning refugees,” she added.

“We can protect our citizens without putting even more barriers in front of those who have lost everything and want to build a better future in America.”

During the election campaign, Trump decried former President Barack Obama’s decision to increase the number of Syrian refugees admitted to the United States over fears that some fleeing the country’s civil war might carry out attacks.

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The U.N. refugee agency said some 25,000 refugees were resettled in the United States between October and year-end under its programme for the most vulnerable.

Save the Children said two thirds of Syrian refugees in the United States were women and children and that refugees were extensively vetted by multiple U.S. agencies.

Miles said the resettlement programme not only saved lives but helped ensure the safety of the country.

“Welcoming refugees sends a strong message to groups that want to do us harm: the United States remains a leading pillar for stability and liberty in the world.”

(Editing by Astrid Zweynert.; Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, which covers humanitarian news, women’s rights, trafficking, corruption and climate change. Visit news.trust.org to see more stories.)