The European response to the refugee crisis has been appalling, Eoghan Rice of Trócaire has said.
“The EU has followed through on just 3 percent of its resettlement
commitment. Ireland pledged to resettle 4,000 Syrian refugees but has so
far taken in only 311.”
“The Tánaiste referred to her regret at the slowness of this process
and her desire to speed up the resettlement process is to be welcomed.”
Mr Rice was speaking following the UN General Assembly earlier this week addressing the issue of migrants and refugees.
“Many people in Europe mock Donald Trump for saying he will build a
wall to stop Mexicans reaching America, but Europe has adopted the same
approach to Syrians,” he told CatholicIreland.
“We have all seen images of the incredible devastation in places such
as Aleppo. It is beyond our understanding how anybody can turn their
back on people fleeing from this devastation.”
International law clearly states that all people have a right to seek
safety elsewhere when their lives are at risk in their country of
origin, he added. “Our response to this crisis cannot be to build walls
On 19 March, for the first time, the UN General Assembly hosted a
high-level summit to address the large movements of refugees and
migrants, with the aim of “bringing countries together behind a more
humane and coordinated approach”.
Attended by heads of state and government, ministers, and leaders
from the UN System, civil society and the private sector, it was
followed on 20th September by a Leaders’ Summit on Refugees hosted by US
President Obama where an appeal was made to governments to pledge
significant new commitments on refugees.
According to press reports, the summit saw 52 countries and
organisations pledge a total of €4 billion in humanitarian aid; double
the number of people to be resettled, whether as refugees as or by other
legal routes; improve access to education for a million refugee
children, and access to work for a million refugees.
However according to Eoghan Rice from Trócaire, the summit delivered
“promises rather than firm action” however it was a “welcome opportunity
to put political focus on the issue,” he added.
“The outcome of the summit was a non-binding agreement by governments
to commit themselves to international law. It was “very light on
practical solutions to the global refugee crisis,” he maintains.
The main positive from the summit, he says, was that governments
heard the criticism levelled at them by UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon
and UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, who
were both rightly critical of governments who are content to sit on
their hands in the hope that somehow this crisis fixes itself without
them playing any role.
“The High Commissioner referred to the ‘banalisation of bigotry’ that we have seen in some parts of Europe,” he said.
Trócaire is supporting Syrian refugees in Lebanon, Greece and Serbia,
as well as providing vital aid for people inside Syria, said Mr Rice
and he appealed to the public to continue to support their work at