UPDATED, SEPTEMBER 16th:
Following yesterday’s announcement, I’ve attached a new letter to send to TDs and relevant ministers about the government’s decision to take in a grand total of FOUR unaccompanied minors. FOUR. COpy and paste from below to show that IRELAND WELCOMES REFUGEES.
Subject: Unacceptable Response to Lesvos Crisis – Ireland Must Welcome Refugees
I am writing this having just heard of your announcement to accept a total of four unaccompanied minors following the tragic fire in Moria. Four.
Thomas, we are supposed to be the land of 1,000 welcomes. Our response to the refugee crisis has been wholly inadequate for many years now. This response, in the wake of such visceral and urgent need isn’t just inadequate, it is inhumane. How can you stand over this announcement when 10 other EU countries have agree to take in 400 UAM? Just today, Germany announced its plans to take a further 1,500 people.
I am writing this from Calais, where I have spent the past two months volunteering with a charity providing emergency support to the 2,000 men, families, and children, risking their lives to make it to the UK here. Police evictions are every 48 hours and are merciless and brutal: all possessions are destroyed to the point where we, as an aid organisation, cannot even give out tents because they are quickly razed to the ground. I am witnessing first-hand what the lack of action of our government is doing to thousands of individuals whose only crime is the dream of a better life.
I urge you to take immediate action to not only increase the numbers Ireland can take in but to be a loud voice for change at an EU level. We need to focus on resettlement, not securitisation. Please consider the lives you are putting at risk with your galling inaction. Just because it is not our borders being targeted, does not mean this is not our problem.
Sincerely and urgently yours,
Below is the letter I wrote and sent yesterday to all MEPs in my constituency as well as those on committees linked to foreign affairs/ human rights etc. My list of demands is taken from here. This is just a template featuring my own experience – take and edit as you wish! AND – be sure to change the subject line so our emails get noticed!
Subject Line: Europe and Ireland NEED to take action to protect and resettle refugees
I am writing to urge you, as MEP for Ireland South, to take urgent action in protecting the lives of the 13,000 refugees currently stranded – homeless – on Lesbos.
European leaders have been warned for months about the unsanitary, overcrowded conditions in Aegean refugee camps and nothing has been done. The overcrowded camps were already failing to provide safety and posed a significant COVID threat. Now, what was already unlivable has become a death certificate – we are relying on you to change this.
I am writing this from Calais, where I have spent the past two months volunteering with a charity providing emergency support to the 2,000 men, families, and children, risking their lives to make it to the UK here. Police evictions are every 48 hours and are merciless and brutal: all possessions are destroyed to the point where we, as an aid organisation, cannot even give out tents because they are quickly razed to the ground.
To make matters worse, in that past few days, the French government have banned food distribution, meaning that these people are not only without shelter, they are now without food. Attached is a piece I wrote for the Irish Examiner on the situation: https://www.irishexaminer.com/lifestyle/people/arid-40046051.html
I was in the Dunkirk camp in 2017. I spent a month on Lesvos in 2018: the situation across Europe is not just unacceptable, it is worsening. Securitisation doesn’t work no matter how much money you pump into Frontex. These are human beings you are failing: fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, uncles, aunts and you are leaving them to a fate worse than death.
Enough is enough. We elected you in good faith: show us humanity is not lost. European countries must act to urgently relocate refugees to safe, humane accommodation. Ireland must increase its resettlement numbers, urgently. Outlined below are just some of the immediate actions needed:
1. Prompt and adequate emergency assistance in Greece: Greek authorities must ensure, as a matter of priority, access to adequate shelter, humanitarian and medical assistance, including safeguarding refugees’ physical safety. An appropriate response to the COVID-19 pandemic on the islands also requires robust increase in health care staff and medical equipment, including activation of the EU Civil Protection Mechanism as appropriate. EU institutions must provide support in this direction, considering the effects of the destruction on Lesvos.
2.Immediate transfers to suitable accommodation on the mainland: Greek authorities must ensure the immediate transfer of refugees from Lesvos to open reception facilities guaranteeing an adequate standard of living on the mainland, starting with the most vulnerable.
3. Immediate expansion of relocation at EU level: Member States and Schengen Associated Countries must strengthen and substantially increase their commitment to existing voluntary relocation schemes and demonstrate their effectively solidarity to Greece. A prompt response to accept the immediate transfer of a large number of refugees from the island of Lesvos to other countries is a starting point for expressing solidarity, considering the deplorable situation on the island.
Please, use the power we entrusted you with to act now. Migration is not a crime but the failings of European government to deal with a decades old crisis is akin to murder. You are complicit in this but you can also change this. Please.