During today’s celebration of World Refugee Day, Trump’s declaration of an executive order ending his family separation policy took media outlets by storm. He stated: “We’re looking to keep families together. Very important. We’re going to be signing an executive order. We are also going to count on Congress, obviously, but we are signing an executive order in a little while. We’re going to keep families together but we still have to maintain toughness or our country will be overrun by people, by crime, by all of the things that we don’t stand for and that we don’t want.”
The move comes shortly after the United States declared it would be leaving the United Nations Human Rights Council yesterday afternoon. U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley, along with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, announced the move, citing the council as a “cesspool of political bias” against U.S. political ally Israel and accusing the council of being a “protector of human rights abusers.” The U.S. had been threatened against the council for months, yet finally came following the council’s condemnation of the U.S. for its child separation policy. Following the United States departure, Stéphane Dujarric, spokesman for U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres remarked: “The Secretary-General would have much preferred for the United States to remain in the Human Rights Council.”
It is today on World Refugee Day that such actions are the most remarkable. The Trump Administration has been accused by many of human rights violations regarding its zero-tolerance policy. Trump and other members of the administration remained defiant, declaring the only way migrants would be permitted into the country would be through legal ways. Yet this mindset ignores that many migrants could also be refugees trying to enter countries in fear of their lives. Refugees from Central and South América seeking asylum into the United States and other countries with their families for the possibility of a safe life free of violence and crime are instead detained and treated as criminals.
Far-right populist leaders Donald Trump and Matteo Salvini are now declaring hardline approaches to immigration. Both leaders have proclaimed similar sentiments of refusing to allow their nations to become “migrant camps.” Yet these approaches often ignore the difficult gray area when deciding if one is a migrant or a refugee. In certain occurrences, migrants who seek to enter another country end up becoming refugees while making the journey, encountering issues of human trafficking, abuse, and more.
In response to World Refugee Day, U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi gave a speech about today’s 68.5 million refugees around the world. “Now, more than ever, taking care of refugees must be a global – and shared – responsibility,” he remarked. Grandi continued: “Getting laws and policies right is vital. But it’s local people and communities that are on the frontlines when refugees arrive, and whose welcome makes the difference – the difference between rejection and inclusion; between despair and hope; between being left behind and building a future. Sharing responsibility for refugees starts there.”
U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres also urged unity and solidarity today, stating: “I am deeply concerned to see more and more situations where refugees are not receiving the protection they need and to which they are entitled. We need to re-establish the integrity of the international refugee protection regime. In today’s world, no community or country providing safe refuge to people fleeing war or persecution should be alone and unsupported. We stand together, or we fail.”
Both Grandi and Guterres endorsed the Global Compact on Refugees, which will be adopted this year to the General Assembly, noting its importance in supporting refugees entries into new societies.
At the U.N. Headquarters today, Assistant Director of the Statistics Division Francesca Perucci, Assistant Director and Chief of Sustainable Development Goals Monitoring Section Yongyi Min, Chief reviewed their report on progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals for 2030. Centering upon the world’s migration crisis, both stressed that migration is a “win-win” situation for all, benefiting both countries of origin and countries of destination. La Voce will soon be publishing our interview with the two statisticians.