Top UN refugee official cautions against linking asylum and terrorism

Top UN refugee official cautions against linking asylum and terrorism

Ruud Lubbers at news conference
Stressing the need for continued international protection of refugees, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) today urged governments to avoid making what he described as an "unwarranted" connection between asylum and terrorism in the aftermath of the recent attacks on the United States.

"We must ensure that the fight against terrorism does not weaken the refugee protection regime in other ways," High Commissioner Ruud Lubbers said in closing remarks to UNHCR's annual Executive Committee meeting in Geneva. He stressed that the 1951 Refugee Convention, far from providing a safe haven for terrorists "is carefully framed to exclude persons who committed particularly serious crimes."

While acknowledging that the international community needed to fight terrorism and abuses by asylum-seekers, the High Commissioner emphasized that "no unwarranted links should be made between refugees and terrorism, or refugees and crime."

At a news conference following the Executive Committee meeting, Mr. Lubbers stressed the importance of finding long-lasting solutions to the refugee problem. "The lack of solutions results in people feeling degraded and fuels crime," he said. "That is exactly what we don't want."