US slashes the num­ber of refugees it will al­low in

The East African - - OUT­LOOK -

By CAROL MORELLO

THE UNITED States will ad­mit no more than 30,000 refugees in the com­ing fis­cal year, Sec­re­tary of State Mike Pom­peo has said, the low­est num­ber in decades and a steep cut from the 45,000 al­lowed in this year.

The new num­ber is a small frac­tion of one per­cent­age point of the al­most 69 mil­lion dis­placed peo­ple in the world to­day. But Pom­peo said the United States re­mains the most gen­er­ous na­tion when other US aid to refugees is taken into ac­count, in­clud­ing funds to shel­ter and feed refugees in camps closer to their home coun­tries.

Mr Pom­peo said the lower cap should not be the “sole barom­e­ter” of Amer­i­can hu­man­i­tar­ian mea­sures, but “must be con­sid­ered in the con­text of the many other forms of pro­tec­tion and as­sis­tance of­fered by the United States.”

In raw num­bers, the US ac­cepts more refugees than other coun­tries. In per capita terms, how­ever, the US lags far be­hind sev­eral less-pop­u­lated coun­tries such as Canada, Aus­tralia and Nor­way.

Mr Pom­peo said the new ceil­ing would be less than a third of the 110,000-refugee cap in place when Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump came to of­fice. The new num­ber is the low­est level of an­nual refugee ad­mis­sions al­lowed since the Refugee Act was passed in 1980.

It does not nec­es­sar­ily mean that 30,000 refugees will be ad­mit­ted in the 2019 fis­cal year, which starts next month. This year, for ex­am­ple, fewer than 20,000 refugees had been re­set­tled by Au­gust 31, less than half the cur­rent cap.

Mr Pom­peo said an­other cut­back in refugees — for the third year in a row — was needed be­cause of a back­log of 800,000 pend­ing asy­lum seek­ers. In the past, asy­lum seek­ers and refugees have been treated as two sep­a­rate cat­e­gories of peo­ple flee­ing con­flict and per­se­cu­tion. Un­der in­ter­na­tional law, coun­tries are ob­li­gated to ad­mit asy­lum seek­ers, though a judge can re­ject their cases and de­port them. Refugees have al­ready been ac­cepted.

In his first year in of­fice, Pres­i­dent Trump set the cap at 50,000 be­fore cut­ting it to 45,000, and now again by a third.

Ac­cord­ing to the In­ter­na­tional Res­cue Com­mit­tee, the num­ber of refugee ad­mis­sions is down dra­mat­i­cally for Chris­tians, Mus­lims, Yazidis and Ro­hingya.

Pic­ture: AFP

A protest in Cal­i­for­nia af­ter Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump barred cit­i­zens of seven Mus­lim-majority coun­tries from en­ter­ing the US.

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