The global standing of the US when it comes to the world refugee crisis has dramatically slipped in the past six months, according to a new report released by Human Rights First, a leading non-profit, non-partisan advocacy organisation.
As a result of changes in US policy under Donald Trump's presidency, global refugee resettlement is now predicted to fall by 30-40 per cent in 2017 as compared to 2016.
The refugees most affected by this decline are women and children, including those who have suffered sexual and gender-based violence, as well as survivors of torture.
The Human Rights First report says: 'The damage done by President Trump's refugee bans has been devastating to refugees, to refugee-hosting nations, to American allies and partners, to US national security interests and to US global leadership.
'The Trump Administration must change course, rescind the bans and launch a renewed and robust effort to lead the world's nations in assisting, protecting, and resettling refugees. While this country has at times faltered, the US commitment to protecting the persecuted has deep and strong roots.'
The report refers to the fact that on January 27, 2017, Trump signed an executive order that sought to ban the resettlement of Syrian refugees indefinitely, prioritise religious minorities, slash all refugee resettlement down to a historic low of 50,000, halt refugee resettlement for at least 120 days, and suspend entry of citizens of seven predominately Muslim countries – Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen – for at least 90 days.
After US federal courts blocked parts of the order, Trump signed a revised version on March 6, 2017. That order removed the Syrian refugee ban as well as exceptions and preferences for religious minorities.
Although the revised order maintained the travel ban, it removed Iraq from the list, leaving the other six countries, and it kept the provisions to suspend resettlement and cut the year's target down by over half to 50,000.
Emily Gray, the senior vice president for US ministries of the Christian charity World Relief, said: 'In addition to women and children, the decision of the United States to allow fewer refugees also means that the US will accept the lowest number of refugees who have been persecuted for their Christian faith in a decade.'
Scott Arbeiter, World Relief's president, added that 'we must appropriately balance security and compassion. This report clearly shows that we are not achieving that balance, and that people are suffering as a result.'
Gray continued: 'The current US policies renege on promises the US has made to those who have served with our military and with US companies working in places like Iraq and Syria.'
The Human Rights First report highlights the example that in the first five months of the Trump administration, there has been a 64 per cent decrease in refugees who fled into Jordan, being permanently resettled to another country.
'Through our work in Jordan, we see very directly the impact of the refugee crisis there, and these actions by the administration are compounding the struggles of refugees who are trying to find safety in countries that are already struggling,' said World Relief CEO Tim Breene.
'The United States needs to reaffirm our commitment to not only supporting refugees in countries of first asylum, but also continuing our welcome of them,' said Arbeiter.