Please see below, an open letter to Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Minister Charlie Flanagan from ENAR Ireland (of which ITM are active members) in relation to the ongoing tragedies of migrants dying in the Mediterranean when seeking asylum in Europe.
We the undersigned members of the European Network Against Racism in Ireland, a network of 47 Civil Society Organisations committed to combating racism, write to implore you to urge the leaders of our European Union partners to ensure that the response to the ongoing human tragedy in the Mediterranean is one focused on humanitarian, rather than military solutions.
Ireland, like all European countries, must recognise its responsibility at this crucial moment and do everything in its power to avoid further mass loss of human life. We are asking you, in your discussions with other European leaders, to show leadership in resisting the temptation to opt for populist responses, and instead offer concrete solutions that will, to use Amnesty International’s term, put people before borders. To this end, we urge you to encourage:
All European member states, including Ireland, to make financial pledges towards the expansion and continuation of search and rescue operations in the Mediterranean, in a way that is transparent and ensures democratic oversight. This humanitarian crisis is a European crisis, and the responsibility must be borne by all, on a fair basis.
The creation of a Europe-wide programme for large scale resettlement for people in need of international protection, to be allocated on a fair basis, in line with each country’s GDP. We have a responsibility to act in solidarity with other EU member states, and are signatories to the 1951 Refugee Convention, let us not forgot that nor why it was written.
The opening of safe and legal channels to Europe, acknowledging the reality that numerous ongoing wars and crises are displacing huge numbers of people. Smuggling is not the reason behind these perilous journeys. The crisis did not start with the deaths in the Mediterranean, rather what we are witnessing is a symptom of a deeper crisis. It must be acknowledged that this crisis is borne out of years of instability in sub-Saharan Africa, North Africa and the Middle East, instability for which some EU countries bear significant responsibility. If the response of EU Heads of State is to push people back into dire situations and conflict, we will not only move the ‘problem’ down the line and perpetuate it, but also fail to understand this as a global problem, one which requires Europe to show courageous leadership. Let our policy in this area reflect the founding principles of the European Union.
Of one thing we can be sure. People will continue to risk their lives by embarking on perilous journeys across the Mediterranean, not knowing what awaits them but certain that there is no hope behind them. We need proactive, effective and humane strategies in place now to stop people dying at our shores. We must acknowledge the part Europe has played in creating this crisis and act to rectify it, by whatever humanitarian means possible.