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World Relief slams Trump plan to cut refugee intake to ‘historic low’

A leading Christian aid and development organization has condemned reported plans by Donald Trump to set the maximum number of refugees the US will take in Fiscal Year 2018 at a ‘historic low’.

World Relief said it was ‘very disappointed’ at the reported figure of 45,000 and urged the administration to allow at least 75,000 people in during the new year beginning on October 1.

It said: ‘At a time of unprecedented forced displacement, World Relief has worked with hundreds of US churches that are ready and willing to welcome as many refugees as our government will allow.’

World Relief president Scott Arbeiter said: ‘The refugee program has been a lifeline of protection for persecuted individuals, in particular, persecuted Christians, around the world. We should take every opportunity to protect them, including through the strategic use of resettlement.

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Activists gathered to welcome Syrian refugees at the Washington State Capitol in Olympia, Washington, on November 20, 2015.

‘A refugee admissions ceiling of 45,000 is extremely troubling, especially as the persecution of many religious minorities, including Christians, is on the rise globally.

‘World Relief is grateful for the President’s strong statements of commitment to stand with persecuted Christians and we had hoped he would set a refugee ceiling that would allow more – not fewer – persecuted Christians along with other persecuted religious minorities to find safety and rebuild their lives in the US.’

The average ceiling since 1980 has been 95,000, World Relief said, with Presidents Reagan and George HW Bush setting it at 140,000 and 142,000 respectively.

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Arbeiter continued: ‘Setting the refugee admissions ceiling at 45,000 will have devastating consequences in some of the most fragile regions around the world.’ He added: ‘The United States should lead a more robust refugee response especially as there are more refugees in the world now than ever in recorded history.’

Of the world’s 22.5 million refugees fleeing torture, rape, and religious or political persecution, the UN estimates that 1.2 million are in critical need of resettlement in 2018 because they face extreme vulnerabilities or family reunification needs. World Relief’s CEO Tim Breene said: ‘Such a severely limited refugee ceiling for FY18 will have ripple effects all around the world and keep refugees who have nowhere to go in constant risk.’

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He added: ‘Hundreds of churches in the US are eager and willing to welcome and serve refugees in partnership with the US government, and a dramatically reduced refugee ceiling will limit their ability to live out their faith in this way. We’re deeply saddened by such a low ceiling and urge the President to use refugee resettlement as a foreign policy tool to promote our values abroad, while also providing refuge for those fleeing persecution to rebuild their lives in the US.’

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