The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) said that wealthy countries should stop the practice of transferring refugees to other nations, as it weakens refugees’ rights for international protection and put their safety at risk.
“Refugees are not commodities that can be traded by wealthier nations. To do so is dehumanizing, exploitative and dangerous,” Gillian Triggs, UNHCR Assistant High Commissioner for Protection, said in a statement on Wednesday.
“UNHCR remains firmly opposed to externalization initiatives that forcibly transfer asylum seekers to other countries,” she added.
The agency warned that such practices often involved “forced transfer” of refugees to the global south, evading international obligations of wealthier countries and putting asylum seekers at risk of “warehousing”, where they might stay in isolated places or under fear of punitive measures, reports Xinhua news agency.
“Such practices undermine the rights of those seeking safety and protection, demonize and punish them and may put their lives at risk,” Triggs said.
“It is ironic that, as we celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Refugee Convention, attempts are being made to weaken its principles and spirit,” she continued, adding that countries should instead guarantee asylum rights, following principles of international laws.
By 2020 there were almost 80 million refugees and displaced people around the globe, according to the UNHCR.