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4000 promises: One year on

Only 311 Syrian refugees have been taken in by Ireland, despite Government promise last year to welcome 4000.

#4000promises: The photos and footage in this video were taken by Trócaire’s Meabh Smith in Serbia, September 2016, where thousands of refugees are stranded in camps and shelters.

On September 10th 2015, following the public outcry emanating from the drowning of three-year-old Syrian refugee, Alan Kurdi, the Irish Government promised 4000 refugees would be offered safety in Ireland.

Exactly one year on, just one unaccompanied child, and a total of 311 Syrian refugees have been taken in by Ireland.

Just one unaccompanied child

In the year since Alan Kurdi’s death, Ireland has taken in just one unaccompanied child. This is unacceptable.

In Italy, more than 90 per cent of all refugee and migrant children are on their own. These children are extremely vulnerable and in danger of exploitation. The Irish Government must respond to this and protect children in line with international law.

“Children seeking safety and protection who are separated from their families are languishing in squalid camps, suffering abuse and exploitation and falling prey to human traffickers because of the failure of EU leaders to manage this crisis effectively and humanely.” Edel McGinley, Director of Migrant Rights Centre Ireland (MRCI).

Stranded in Europe

Under the much-criticised EU-Turkey deal, Europe has closed the main refugee route to northern Europe, leaving thousands of people stranded in refugee camps across Greece and the Balkans. These people, most of whom have fled active conflict, are essentially trapped.

They have nowhere to go and feel abandoned by the international community.

So far this year, 268,602 people have entered Europe by sea, with 3,166 dead or missing, including children.

Behind these numbers are human lives, innocent people with broken hearts whose lives have been irrevocably changed. Many families have travelled with their house keys even though their homes have disappeared and their countries are destroyed. 

The Irish Response

The Irish Navy should be commended for making an heroic contribution to the search and rescue operation across the Mediterranean Sea. According to Commander Patrick Burke of Irish Naval Services, they have saved over 10,000 lives to date. However, EU members are failing in their commitments to relocate refugees with sufficient speed or to ensure the safe passage of refugees taking perilous smugger routes.  
It is imperative that the EU, including Ireland, accelerates the pace of relocation for refugees and upholds basic humanitarian values that protect unaccompanied minors and reunite loved ones.

This is not a crisis for Europe, but a crisis for the millions of people forced from their homes by war in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and Somalia, to name a few.

One year on, the Irish government must meet its commitment to take in 4,000 refugees.

#4000promises, 3688 not met.

Learn how we are responding to the growing needs of extremely vulnerable refugees: www.trocaire.org/refugeecrisis


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