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Former British foreign minister, at Tsinghua, blasts Trump refugee policy

Updated: Nov 11, 2019

“We think it is a very bad move for America and a very bad signal to the rest of the world," Ed Miliband said at Tsinghua University. (Photo by Nico Gous)


Former British foreign secretary David Miliband criticized U.S. President Donald Trump's restrictive policy on refugees, saying it could have a cascading impact around the world.

“We think it is a very bad move for America and a very bad signal to the rest of the world, because it gives an excuse for other countries to say they don’t want refugees either,” Miliband, current head of humanitarian aid organization International Rescue Committee, said at Tsinghua University on Oct. 29.

Trump has been criticized for his anti-immigrant rhetoric and cutting back on how many refugees the U.S. allows to enter the country. CNN reported on Oct. 29 that the U.S. is on track to admitting zero refugees in October as a moratorium on admissions continues.

Miliband, 54, a member of the UK's Labour Party, also lambasted British Prime Minister Boris Johnson's Brexit plans, saying a British departure from the E.U. would fragment European policy on human trafficking.

Miliband was appointed UK Foreign Minister by former Prime Minister Gordon Brown. The youngest person to hold the position in three decades, he served from 2007 to 2010. Miliband was a member of the British Parliament from 2001 to 2013, when he resigned to take the International Rescue Committee CEO job in New York. The IRC helps refugees and asylum at its 200 sites in about 40 countries, including Syria, Afghanistan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, there are about 70.8 million displaced worldwide, 41.3 million within their own countries, 25.9 million refugees and 3.5 million asylum seekers.

Miliband said despite large media coverage of the refugee crisis in Europe, most refugees are in lower or middle-income countries with the biggest hosts being Ethiopia, Uganda, Turkey, Lebanon and Bangladesh.

Miliband said a refugee crosses a border because they are persecuted and then registers with the United Nations in the country where they arrive. But an asylum seeker flees from their home country and seek asylum in another country. The asylum application is handled by the government of the host country.

Miliband said International Rescue Committee research found that giving refugees cash and improving education goes a long way in improving their lives.

“It [cash] helps them rent. It helps them pay for school supplies. It helps them set up businesses,” Miliband said. “It also seems to increase school attendance, so there is lower child labour in areas when there is financial support for refugee families. It’s also associated with the economic empowerment of women, which seems to be associated with reductions in violence against women.”

Miliband: Giving refugees cash and improving education goes a long way in improving their lives. (Photo by Nico Gous)

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