Places of Sanctuary’s Statement on English Channel Deaths
Last week at least twenty-seven people lost their lives, drowned in the English channel as they tried to seek refuge in the UK. This was only the latest heartbreaking example of human tragedies as refugees from the Middle East, Asia and Africa try to find a new life, fleeing war, persecution and poverty, in our peaceful and prosperous Europe. No one should be forced to risk their life to reach sanctuary, family and the chance to rebuild.
At the same time thousands of people, refugees from conflicts and oppression in Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria are barely existing in freezing camps on the Belarus border with Poland and Lithuania. They are caught between the tricks of a cruel Belarusian autocrat and the indifference and hostility of EU governments. In the Mediterranean the EU turns back African refugees who are then forced to eke out a miserable and terrified existence in chaotic camps in Libya.
Ireland is far away from all these difficult areas and problems, this endless suffering and loss of life. But we have a long history of forced emigration and poverty, and we like to think this has made us more compassionate to the sufferings of people forced to leave their native countries to seek a safer, better life elsewhere.
Our government has offered refuge to just 500 people fleeing Afghanistan. We must do better; we must accept and welcome more people fleeing war and persecution. PoSI stands in solidarity with refugees, asylum-seekers and vulnerable migrants everywhere, and calls on the Irish government to give sanctuary to many more of them.