UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres expressed hope that the immigration ban ordered by US President Donald Trump is "temporary" and America will continue its "large tradition" of providing protection to refugees.
"It is clear to me that refugee protection is something that is absolutely essential to guarantee, that access by refugees to where they can find adequate protection is of extreme importance," Guterres said at a press conference at the African Union Summit in Addis Ababa on Monday.
Guterres, who had served as the UN High Commissioner for Refugees for 10 years, said the US has a large tradition of refugee protection and he "strongly" hopes that "measures that were taken will be only temporary. I hope that refugee protection will become again high in the agenda of the United States of America."
UN spokesperson Stephane Dujarric voiced "concern" over the chaos and confusion in the US and across the world in the wake of the refugee ban put in place by the Trump administration and reiterated during the daily briefing that the world body hopes the measures put in place by Washington are temporary.
He pointed out that the UN has no confirmed cases where any of its staff members were affected by the new policies.
"The UN has been in contact with the US authorities over the weekend and has been assured that G-2 and G-4 visa holders are exempted from the executive order. The UN has received assurances that travel by UN staff should proceed unaffected by the new policy," a note from Dujarric said, referring to the visa categories required by diplomats, government officials, and employees who work for international organisations in the US.
"The US has been a critical partner of the United Nations organizations, especially UNHCR (Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) and IOM (International Organisation for Migration), in resettling refugees," he said adding that the Secretary-General looks forward to a "constructive engagement" with the US Administration on this and other issues.
Dujarric said the Secretary General had expressed concern about the discrimination faced by minorities, refugees, and migrants across the world, in particular by the Muslim community.
"I find stereotyping of Muslims deeply troubling. A new normal of public discourse is taking hold in which prejudice is given a free pass and the door is open to even more extreme hatred," the UN Chief had said.