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U.N. Chief Calls for Lifting U.S. Travel Ban | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Antonio Guterres, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) smiles after a news conference at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland December 18, 2015. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Wednesday urged the immediate lifting a U.S. ban on travellers from seven Muslim-majority countries, saying the measures would not prevent terrorists from entering the United States.

“I think that these measures should be removed sooner rather than later,” Guterres told reporters.
“Those measures indeed violate our basic principles and I think that they are not effective if the objective is to, really, avoid terrorists to enter the United States,” he said.

The appeal to end the travel ban came amid a mounting international outcry over the 90-day entry restrictions on citizens from Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

U.S. President Donald Trump signed an executive order on Friday enacting the immediate ban and also suspending the arrival of all refugees for a minimum of 120 days while Syrian refugees were barred indefinitely, reported AFP.

Addressing the U.S. suspension of refugee resettlement and the ban on Syrians, Guterres again appealed to the U.S. administration to reverse course.

“Resettlement is the must from the point of view of refugee protection,” said Guterres, who served as U.N. refugee chief for 10 years before his election as secretary-general.

“I strongly hope that the U.S. will be able to re-establish its very solid refugee protection in resettlement and I hope that the Syrians will not be excluded in that process.”

Trump’s decision triggered protests and chaos at airports while U.N. human rights chief Zeid bin Ra’ad Zeid al-Hussein declared it illegal and “mean-spirited.”

Guterres, who took over from South Korea’s Ban Ki-moon on January 1, argued that banning citizens from Muslim countries would not prevent terrorist organizations from mounting an attack on the U.S.
“We are dealing with very sophisticated terrorist organizations,” he said.

“If a global terrorist organization will try to attack any country like the U.S., they will probably not come with people with passports from those countries that are hotspots of conflicts today.”

“They might come with the passports from the most — I would say — developed and credible countries in the world or they might use people who are already in the country.”