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UN Chief welcomes positive steps announced by Biden administration on migration, refugees

UN Chief welcomes positive steps announced by Biden administration on migration, refugees 2

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has welcomed the “positive steps” announced by the Biden administration on migration and refugees and said he was looking forward to working with the new US leadership on strengthening multilateral cooperation in these areas.

On his first day in office, Biden reversed some of former President Donald Trump’s immigration policies, such as lifting a travel ban on people from several Muslim-majority countries.

He signed a number of executive orders and other presidential actions to re-engage with the World Health Organisation, rejoin the Paris climate agreement and boost protections for people who entered the country illegally as minors.

The support from the US to address the needs of migrants and refugees has been strong and steadfast, a statement issued by Secretary General Antonio Guterres’ spokesperson said on Wednesday.

“The Secretary-General welcomes the positive steps announced today by the US administration relating to migration and refugees,” the statement said. Guterres “looks forward to working with the new US administration to strengthen multilateral cooperation in these areas. He also hopes to see the United States join the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration,” the statement added.

“This partnership is needed now more than ever as we seek to provide assistance, protection and sustainable solutions to the displacement of record numbers of people who have been forced to flee their homes as a result of conflict, violence or disaster, or are migrating in the hopes of finding a better life for themselves and their families.”

UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi congratulated US President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris on taking office and described Biden as a “strong advocate for refugees.”

Grandi said Biden has made important commitments to restoring the US refugee resettlement programme and ensuring that human rights and humanitarian values are at the center of the US asylum system.

He added that the UN Refugee Agency has enjoyed robust and steadfast support from the government and people of the United States for over 70 years.

“That support and partnership are as important as ever as we seek to provide protection and aid to the more than 80 million people around the world who have been forced to flee their homes, and find solutions to their displacement.”

He said the UN agency looks forward to deepening the strong and trusted partnership with the United States, and to working with the new administration and Congress to address the many challenges of forced displacement around the world.

The Trump administration had severely reduced the number of refugees admitted through the resettlement programme, as part of an anti-immigration stance that included a travel ban on citizens travelling from a group of mainly Muslim-majority countries.

The Obama administration had planned in 2016 to admit 110,000 refugees, but the White House moved to reduce that number each year, culminating in a cap of just 15,000 for this year – the lowest refugee admission figure on record.

Biden has reportedly pledged to raise the annual refugee admissions ceiling to 125,000.

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