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Czech official: US refugee decree is bad sign for other countries

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Prague, Jan 29 (CTK) – President Donald Trump’s decision to suspend the U.S. refugee acceptance program is a bad sign for other states, since any such measure worsens the access to asylum and protection for foreigners from conflict regions, Czech Organisation for Aid to Refugees (OPU) head Martin Rozumek told CTK on Sunday.

The office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) have called the U.S. refugee acceptance program one of the most important in the world, and said they hope it will continue and provide aid to refugees irrespective of their religion, ethnicity or race.

“The USA has sent a bad sign to other countries. It also plays into the hands of the Czech politicians who assert that we should not voluntarily accept anyone. The USA has been an example to follow so far, it has been historically the best in accepting refugees. It accepted 85,000 people in the fiscal year 2016, which is almost eight times the number accepted by the whole EU,” Rozumek said.

On Friday, Trump put a four-month hold on allowing refugees into the USA and barred travellers from seven Muslim-majority countries, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen for 90 days.

The U.S. judiciary is assessing Trump’s decree now. A court has already temporarily forbidden expulsions of foreigners from the USA.

Rozumek said it would be a breach of the Geneva convention on refugees if a Syrian national arrived at a U.S. airport and was barred from applying for asylum there. If such foreigner turned to a court, they would most probably succeed with their complaint, Rozumek said.

He called Trump’s decision unworthy of a statesman and ill-considered. Such measures worsen the access to protection for people fleeing from fighting or persecution, he said.

The U.S. decree is also problematic for the refugees who stay in the USA but do not have U.S. citizenship yet. This may concern up to hundreds of thousands of people. They do not know whether they could return to the USA, if they left, Rozumek said.

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