International humanitarian aid organization World Relief says it has been forced to lay off more than 140 staff members in the wake of President Donald Trump’s drastic restrictions on refugee resettlement in the U.S.
The Baltimore-based nonprofit has also made the “difficult decision” to close five local offices that have collectively resettled more than 25,000 refugees over the past four decades, it announced this week.
Just seven days after his inauguration, Trump signed an executive order blocking Syrian refugees from the U.S. indefinitely, and slashing the nation’s total refugee admission for 2017 down to 50,000 from a proposed 110,000. The move triggered immediate condemnation from leaders and groups around the world, including World Relief.
CEO Tim Breene expressed deep regret over the refugee resettlement reductions and resulting layoffs, but said his organization’s mission remains unabated.
“We fully intend to continue the critical work of resettling refugees and serving other immigrants in the communities where we serve throughout the United States,” he asserted in a statement. “The unfortunate truth is that given the unprecedented nature of the global refugee crisis, there are simply more people than ever that need our support and our compassion.”
For more than 70 years, World Relief has offered international aid and expertise in response to tragedies including natural disasters, poverty, conflicts, famines, epidemics and various refugee crises. In the U.S., the group has worked with local partners and churches for decades to support and offer services to resettled refugees.
The United Nations issued a stark warning this year that the global need for humanitarian aid has reached a level not seen since World War II. As Trump slams America’s door to refugees, more than 128 million people in 33 countries remain vulnerable to crises including conflict and natural disaster.
“We urge the Trump Administration to renew and reinvigorate efforts to work together with the global humanitarian community to meet this urgent crisis head on,” Breene said. “America is now less able to help those around the world who need our help the most.”