The Jesuit Refugee Centre (JRS Ireland) has called on the Irish Government to intensify efforts to bring 4,000 persons in need of protection to Ireland as part of the Irish Refugee Protection Programme. They also called on the government to honour its promise to fundamentally reform the Irish asylum system, in line with recommendations in the McMahon Report.
Eugene Quinn, National Director of JRS Ireland was speaking at the launch of a new report Protection, Resettlement and Integration: Ireland’s Response to the Refugee and Migration ‘Crisis’. The report is the combined work of JRS Ireland and twenty one leading non-government organisations in Ireland who are seeking to respond to the European refugee crisis. According to Eugene Quinn, “Ireland must share the responsibility of responding to this crisis and show that its commitment to offering a safe haven for people seeking refuge extends beyond rhetoric to concrete action.”
Nearly 900,000 people have put their lives at risk to cross the Mediterranean Sea in 2015 and over 3,500 did not survive the journey and Eugene Quinn says, “None of us should be comfortable with this situation. We must respond as individuals, as communities and as states. We must always remember first and foremost we are dealing with people who share the same human condition as we do, who share the same hopes and dreams of a better life for themselves and their families.”
The coalition of NGO’s expressed disappointment that the focus by EU leaders on border security has diverted attention from the urgent need to find political solutions to current crises. They warned that there will not be a military solution to the current conflicts and EU Member States must put real pressure on all parties in the Middle East to engage in inclusive peace talks immediately. Their report makes a series of recommendations to the Irish Government, including:
• Making family reunification a reality without systematic barriers to allow refugees resettle in Ireland.
• Encouraging EU partners to introduce humanitarian visas to permit access to the EU at embassies and consulates
• Ensuring that the new EU Trust Fund for Africa – to which Ireland has pledged an initial €3 million – must not divert development aid to curb migration or increase border security
• Ending the commercial, for profit provision of accommodation for people seeking international protection
• Establishing a Special Rapporteur on Refugees, Asylum Seekers and Statelessness for Ireland along with local integration groups
• Maintaining naval rescue missions throughout the winter
• Calling for the suspension of the Dublin Convention with Italy, Hungary, Slovenia and Croatia in order to alleviate pressure on states at the border of Europe.