24th June 2015
RE: European Council meeting 25th & 26th June 2015
We are writing to call on you and EU leaders to use the meeting of EU Heads of State on 25th and 26th June to recognise and address conflict and displacement that forces hundreds of thousands of people to flee for safety.
The UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR, has just released its Global Trends study indicating that one in every 122 people in the world is now displaced by war, violence and persecution. The number of people displaced in the world has tipped 60 million as a result of poverty, climate change, and conflict.
We welcome Ireland’s humanitarian response with the deployment of LÉ Eithne to the Mediterranean. In addition, Minister Fitzgerald’s commitment to participate in the resettlement plan of the European Commission and increase the number of places available for refugees from outside the EU is also very welcome. These are clearly essential emergency steps and a greater commitment is required by the Irish Government and EU nations to uphold and implement International law.
Taoiseach, we ask you to confirm Ireland’s commitment to the resettlement of refugees. As Ireland is a member of the UN Human Rights Council, your leadership is crucial at this time. We call on you and the Irish Government to commit to participating in the relocation of asylum seekers arriving in Italy and Greece; to resist the call to increase the return or removal of migrants not in need of protection; and to promote safe and regular channels of migration as a matter of urgency.
We urge you to commit to addressing the causes of this crisis by ensuring that Ireland and other European nations live up to their promises to provide 0.7% of GNI towards overseas development assistance, to protect human rights, and to increase investment in inclusive development. In addition, we ask that you push for urgent political solutions to conflict and inclusive socio-economic development across Africa and the Middle East.
EU member states must take a strong and united stand on solidarity, protection and human dignity of refugees and migrants. Unless a wider programme is implemented, this situation will persist. Indeed it will lead to even graver consequences than we have witnessed in recent months in the Mediterranean. As civil society organisations working in the field of human rights with migrants and refugees, and concerned with equitable trade, humanitarian aid, overseas development and climate change, we urge you and EU leaders to act responsibly, humanely and without delay.