To coincide with last week’s World Refugee Day, Mr Miliband discussed the issue of refugees within the US and how since Trump came to office four years ago the discussion had become “more toxic” leading to the slashing of support budgets for those most in need. Yet, the International Rescue Committee president and CEO condemned Trump’s movements on the issue, which has seen refugee numbers across the globe reach figures unseen since the devastating days of World War 2. Since coming to power, Trump has installed an “America first” attitude, which sees the country’s primary focus remain more firmly on itself.
Examples of this include Trump’s decision to axe monetary support for institutions such as NATO and the World Health Organisation (WHO), as well as his vow to build a wall between the US and Mexico to keep out immigrants.
But the manner in which Trump has gone about turning a humanitarian issue into a political one led Mr Miliband to remind the President that forgetting refugees is akin to forgetting his country’s past, which was built on those in need centuries ago.
Speaking to Express.co.uk, the former South Shields MP said: “In the US it’s obviously become a more toxic, political issue.
“The US historically has welcomed more refugees than any other country through its refugee resettlement programme but that’s been slashed under President Trump.
“And the truth is that he has been part of a wider trend in which issues of immigration and issues of refugees have become very confused.
“In the US, there hasn’t been an immigration reform bill for 30 years, since 1986, and so the debate about immigration has overwhelmed the facts about refugees.
“It’s not a case that one is good and one is bad – it’s just that they’re different because people move for different reasons. And so I think the debate has polarised.”
Last week, the IRC shared figures from the UN Refugee Agency (UNHRC), which showed that around one percent of humanity – around one in every 97 people on the planet – have now been affected by forced displacement.
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He added: “The debate is open in the sense of fair play that many people have can still be called on and I think that is one of the things that has happened in the COVID crisis is that how our societies are run has come out of the shadows and the real lives of people is more clear.
“I always say that the biggest danger for refugees is that they get dehumanised and some of the rhetoric dehumanises them.
“But when you know them as work mates, as neighbours, as family members you can see they are just like you or me.”