US joins back WHO; Biden writes to World Body chief
Reversing Donald Trump’s decision to sever ties with the world health watchdog, World Health Organization,US President Joe Biden, within hours of taking reins, made to clear to the United Nations that The US intends to remain a member of the WHO.
In a communication to Mr. António Guterres, Secretary-General, United Nations, Mr. Biden said: This letter constitutes a retraction by the Government of the United States of the letter dated July 6, 2020, notifying you that the Government of the United States intended to withdraw from the World Health Organization (WHO), effective July 6, 2021. The United States intends to remain a member of the World Health Organization.
“The WHO plays a crucial role in the world’s fight against the deadly COVID-19 pandemic as well as countless other threats to global health and health security. The United States will continue to be a full participant and a global leader in confronting such threats and advancing global health and health security. Please accept, the assurances of my highest consideration.”
The UN Secretary-General on Wednesday welcomed the “positive steps” announced by the new US administration towards migrants and refugees, while the head of the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) congratulated the new President and Vice President on taking office, pledging to work with them to strengthen global support for refugees.
“Long a strong advocate for refugees, Mr. Biden has made important commitments to restoring the US refugee resettlement programme and ensuring that human rights and humanitarian values are at the centre of the US asylum system”, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, said in a statement.
“The Secretary-General looks forward to working with the new US administration to strengthen multilateral cooperation” to support migrants and refugees, said the statement issued on behalf of António Guterres. “He also hopes to see the United States join the .”
He noted that US support to address the needs of migrants and refugees has been strong and steadfast. “This partnership is needed now more than ever as we seek to provide assistance, protection and sustainable solutions to the displacement of record numbers of people who have been forced to flee their homes as a result of conflict, violence or disaster, or are migrating in the hopes of finding a better life for themselves and their families.”
70 years of support
For more than seventy years, UNHCR has enjoyed robust and steadfast support from the Government and people of the United States, said Mr. Grandi.
While the Trump administration had severely reduced the number of refugees admitted through the resettlement programme, as part of an anti-immigration stance that included a travel ban on citizens travelling from a group of mainly Muslim-majority countries, President Biden has signalled that he will restore it.
According to news reports, the Obama administration had planned in 2016 to admit 110,000 refugees, but the Trump White House moved to reduce that number each year, culminating in a cap of just 15,000 for this year – the lowest refugee admission figure on record.
The new President has reportedly pledged to raise the annual refugee admissions ceiling to 125,000.
‘Strong and trusted partnership’
Mr. Grandi said that UNHCR had enjoyed “robust and steadfast support” from US governments for most of its 70 year history.
“That support and partnership are as important as ever as we seek to provide protection and aid to the more than 80 million people around the world who have been forced to flee their homes, and find solutions to their displacement”, said Mr. Grandi.
“We look forward to deepening the strong and trusted partnership with the United States, and to working with the new administration and Congress to address the many challenges of forced displacement around the world”, said the top UN refugee official.
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