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Wednesday 26 April 2017

David Miliband calls Trump's US refugee block 'harmful and hasty'

Mr Miliband is president of the International Rescue Committee
Mr Miliband is president of the International Rescue Committee

Former UK foreign secretary David Miliband has called American president Donald Trump's suspension of the US refugee resettlement initiative a "harmful and hasty" decision.

The ex-Labour MP, who is now the president of humanitarian aid body the International Rescue Committee (IRC), said: "America must remain true to its core values. America must remain a beacon of hope."

The IRC statement declared that the US vetting process for prospective refugees is already robust - involving biometric screening and up to 36 months of vetting by "12 to 15 government agencies".

Mr Miliband praised America's previous record as a resettlement destination, and said: "This is no time for America to turn its back on people ready to become patriotic Americans."

The foreign ministers of France and Germany have put on a united front in the face of Mr Trump's order.

New German foreign minister Sigmar Gabriel noted that "loving thy neighbour" forms part of America's Christian traditions.

The French minister, Jean-Marc Ayrault, said Mr Trump's order "can only worry us".

After meeting in Paris, both ministers said they want to hold talks with Rex Tillerson, Mr Trump's nominee for US secretary of state.

Mr Ayrault said: "There are many other issues that worry us. That is why Sigmar and I also discussed what we are going to do. When our colleague, Tillerson, is officially appointed, we will both contact him."

Meanwhile, two United Nations agencies say long-standing US support for resettlement programs has offered a double benefit, "first by rescuing some of the most vulnerable people in the world, and second, by enabling them to enrich their new societies".

The International Organisation for Migration and the UN High commissioner for refugees said in a cautiously-worded statement that they hope the US "will continue its strong leadership role and long tradition of protecting those who are fleeing conflict and persecution".

The agencies said it is important to treat refugees equally, regardless of their religion, nationality or race.

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