UN chief Antonio Guterres on Wednesday called for lifting a ban on travellers from seven Muslim-majority countries, saying such measures spread “anxiety and anger” and will not prevent terrorists from entering the US.
“This is not the way to best protect the US or any other country in relation to the serious concerns that exist about possible terrorist infiltration,” Mr Guterres said to reporters. “I don’t think this is the effective way to do so. I think that these measures should be removed sooner rather than later,” he added.
Guterres cautioned that banning people and refugees from entering other nations will not ensure that terrorists will not infiltrate as the extremist groups could circumvent measures and look at other ways to target nations and their citizens.
“They might come with passports from the most developed, credible countries or use people that have been for decades present in the country itself,” he said.
The secretary general made the remarks in response to a question as he was briefing reporters on his travel to Ethiopia, where he attended an African Union summit.
In the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa on Monday, Guterres commended African countries for opening their borders to refugees and people fleeing violence while other parts of the world, including the developed West, close boundaries and build walls.
His statement followed a warning on Wednesday from UN experts that asylum-seekers could face torture if they are not given safe harbor in the US and a call from the Vatican for openness to other cultures, adding to a drumbeat of international criticism of Mr Trump’s travel curbs.
It “risks people being returned, without proper individual assessments and asylum procedures, to places in which they risk being subjected to torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment”, a panel of Human rights experts said in a statement.
Everybody is arguing whether or not it is a BAN. Call it what you want, it is about keeping bad people (with bad intentions) out of country!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 1, 2017
The US President’s executive actions on extreme vetting and visa ban applies to migrants, refugees and US legal residents — green-card holders — from Iraq, Iran, Sudan, Somalia, Syria, Libya and Yemen. There is an indefinite ban on the arrival of Syrian refugees. Trump cited “terrorism concerns” as the reason behind passing the order.
The UN Secretary-General emphasized that it is important not to have measures that “spread anxiety and anger” because then “we help trigger the kind of recruitment mechanisms that these (global terrorist) organizations are now doing everywhere in the world,” he said.
Meanwhile, 4 US states, Massachusetts, New York, Virginia and Washington have sued to overturn the order on the grounds it flouts constitutional guarantee of religious freedom.
On the indefinite ban on Syrian refugees entering the US, he said resettlement of refugees is in many situations the only possible solution. “The US has always been in the forefront of refugee settlement and Syrians at the present moment have more dramatic needs in the world. I strongly hope that the US will be able to reassess its very solid refugee protection in resettlement and I hope Syrians will not be excluded in that process,” he said.
On the possibility that Trump administration will cut US funding to the UN, Guterres said, Sometimes we talk too much about things that have not happened and when we talk too much about things that have not happened, you trigger the happening of those things. I will not be making comments on possibilities to enhance those possibilities to possibly be a reality.”