Joint Media Statement by the Irish Refugee Council (IRC) and the Migrant Rights Centre Ireland (MRCI)
The deaths of up to 950 people, many of them children, in the Mediterranean at the weekend is reported to be the largest loss of life on the sea since WWII. It ties in with the largest refugee crisis since 1945, declared last year by UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency. The truth is that the crisis has been a long time in the making.
Sue Conlan, CEO of the IRC said, “The EU has been pushing this problem as far away as possible for too long. ‘Out of sight, out of mind’ has worked well in the past but the crisis can no longer be ignored and Ireland must play its part. This crisis is borne out of many years of instability in sub-Saharan Africa, in North Africa and the Middle East, in which some EU countries have played a significant part.”
Edel McGinley, Director of the MRCI, said: “These boats are the coffin ships of the 21st century, and Ireland has remained silent on this crisis for too long. We are Europeans, and people are dying at Europe’s borders. Ireland must play its part by responding positively to migrants and refugees who reach Ireland, as well as by advocating for comprehensive rescue programmes, and by helping to bring stability abroad.”
Both MRCI and IRC are calling on Ministers Flanagan and Fitzgerald to advocate on behalf of the Irish people for enhanced search and rescue missions in the Mediterranean, regular channels of migration to Europe, and safe passage for refugees fleeing war, persecution and conflict. This is a humanitarian disaster, and we must respond immediately.