A group of refugees stayed at U.S. President Donald Trump’s childhood home in New York over the weekend as part of a stunt to highlight the plight of people feeling conflict and persecution around the world, a charity said on Monday.
Aid agency Oxfam said it rented the house and invited refugees from Somalia, Vietnam and Syria as guests to call on Trump and other world leaders to do more to support refugees as they gather in New York for the U.N. General Assembly this week.
Trump’s administration has issued a ban on people entering the United States from six Muslim-majority countries that also limited refugee admissions.
“Lives are hanging in the balance while we wait to see if President Trump and other world leaders will fulfill their duty to uphold the rights of refugees and other displaced people,” said Shannon Scribner, director of Oxfam America’s humanitarian department.
Trump lived in the five-bedroom, brick-fronted home built by his father, Fred, in a wealthy enclave in the borough of Queens until age 4.
The Tudor-style house, which has a fireplace, a sun room and a paneled study, was purchased by an unidentified buyer for $2.14 million at an auction in March and is now up for rent on Airbnb.
Oxfam said its staff laid a mat emblazoned with the words “Refugees Welcome” and displayed a banner with the same slogan outside the property at the weekend, while four refugees shared their stories inside.
Abdi Iftin said he felt lucky to have been able to a build a new life in the United States after feeling conflict in his native Somalia.
“I had to leave my home and family behind, but here I can work hard and help provide for them,” he was quoted as saying by Oxfam.
The charity said it hoped the initiative would give a face to an issue that is too often politicized with myths, lies, and fears.
“What makes America great is our diversity of experiences, ideas, talents, and the opportunity for anyone to succeed,” Scribner said in a statement.
The world is grappling with the worst migration crisis in decades, with more than 65 million people driven from their homes by war and poverty in the Middle East, Africa and elsewhere, according to U.N. estimates.
The U.S. Supreme Court is to hold a key hearing on the constitutionality of Trump’s controversial ban in October.