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Statement on the U.S. Executive Order Affecting Refugees

Plan International is urging the U.S. administration to revoke the executive order and restore U.S. programs that provide protection to the world’s most vulnerable refugees, who are predominantly women and children fleeing conflict and persecution.

The United States has long been at the forefront of welcoming and protecting vulnerable people, and those fleeing violence and persecution around the world.

At a time when record numbers of people are being displaced by conflict and persecution, it is more important than ever that all countries uphold their responsibilities for providing protection to refugees, and act in a spirit of international solidarity.

Plan International strongly believes that refugees should receive equal treatment for protection and assistance, and opportunities for resettlement, regardless of their religion, nationality, sex, or race. 

Plan works with thousands of refugees in different parts of the world and is particularly concerned about the impact of the executive order on vulnerable children caught up in violence and conflict.

As refugees, children witness terrible violence and experience emotional stress, while their usual social support and education are disrupted. Children get separated from their parents as a result of death, injury or displacement. Girls and boys, especially those without appropriate care, become more vulnerable for recruitment into armed groups, sexual abuse, trafficking or, as is often the case, several of these risks at the same time.

Resettlement enables refugee children to rebuild their lives. Any delays will only further exacerbate their distress and suffering.

The consequences of failing to protect children can be life-shattering. If children are not protected, the deep developmental and emotional scars born out of violence can affect their ability to become healthy and emotionally balanced adults as much as any physical injury. 

Girls are often the most vulnerable to gender-based violence in refugee camps, or when on the move. Girls in emergencies face increased risks from child marriage, sexual violence and trafficking – fundamental violations of their human rights. They are also often the first to miss out on education within a family. Female youth feel extra pressure to marry early and be confined within the home. The humanitarian setting exacerbates basic needs for social services, among others. Without access to such services, youth vulnerability to poverty and violence increases, including sexual violence and sexual abuse and exploitation.

Plan International was founded in 1937 as a response to the refugees of the Spanish Civil War on the belief that people would not see the children displaced by that conflict as “Spanish Children,” or “War Refugees,” but as children whose future was in doubt.  

In 1937 and the years that followed, millions of Americans answered that call demonstrating the values of the nation and embracing our common humanity. That is why Plan International is calling on the U.S. Government to continue to act on those principles by revoking the executive order targeting refugees and upholding the country’s legacy of welcoming people fleeing conflict and persecution.

The girls, boys, women and men forced by conflict and crisis to flee their home and nations should be supported in their time of need. As a world leader, the United States must play its part to provide hope and opportunity and prevent a lost generation of children. 

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