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The refugee crisis was back on the agenda of Dáil Éireann this morning, with TDs debating the Irish and EU response to the ongoing crisis caused by the war in Syria.
Although the issue has faded somewhat from the front pages, it is in fact getting more serious. With winter approaching and temperatures set to plummet in central and eastern Europe, hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees risk being left in limbo, stuck in freezing temperatures with nowhere to go and no legal protection.
Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald this morning reiterated the Government’s commitment to the quick processing of applications from refugees from Syria, as well as the importance of all EU member states showing solidarity with those fleeing conflict.
The Irish government has responded well to this crisis, but there remains a lot of work to be done on an EU level.
We can’t allow ourselves to sit back and think we have done our bit. The EU has agreed to take in 120,000 refugees over two years but what about the hundreds of thousands of people not covered by this agreement?
Caption: We asked people in Dublin City for their views on the refugee crisis and if they think charity begins at home.
By refusing to process asylum applications, as well as failing to protect the human rights of people within their borders, some EU states are making a mockery not only of European values but of international legal agreements. Ireland still has a big role to play in ensuring that all EU member states are fully living up to their legal obligations.
The approach of winter also heightens the urgent need to increase funding to refugee camps and settlements in Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey, the three countries that host the majority of Syrian refugees. The threat of snow and freezing temperatures will increase people’s desperation and may lead to an increase in the numbers of people attempting to reach the EU.
A refugee makes a peace sign through a bus window in Greece.
The UN’s Syria appeal remains chronically underfunded. If the international community proves itself unable to protect refugees where they are, it is only natural that they will look to move elsewhere.
Trócaire is supporting the needs of Syrian refugees in Serbia, Greece, Lebanon and Jordan, as well as distributing vital aid inside Syria. Support our efforts.