Trump implemented a ‘Zero Tolerance Policy’ in April, 2018. Since then his administration has taken a hard line on illegal border crossings, imprisoning many illegal immigrants. According to the Department of Homeland Security, around 2,000 children were separated from their parents in the month of April and May.
Almost all the media platforms were drenched with the opinion, comments and perspective of people all around the world based on the Zero Tolerance Policy. To learn more about the Irish perspective, I went to Dublin City University (DCU, Ireland) to see student reaction.
Did you know that June 20th is World Refugee Day? Have you ever wondered how you can help refugees?
An unprecedented 68.5 million people have been forcibly displaced worldwide according to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR). Out of these, 25.4 million are refugees. Since 2001, June 20th has been celebrated as World Refugee Day and commemorates the strength, courage and perseverance of refugees. It shows support and raises awareness of global responsibility for refugees. In response to the imminent World Refugee Day 2018, here are some things you can do, to support refugees locally.
- Donations: this includes monetary and non-monetary donations to organisations working with refugees and is the easiest way to help refugees.
See: RAMSI, the Homeless Period
- Get involved with your local refugee solidarity group: if you can have spare time or skills to offer, volunteering is a more direct way of supporting refugees.
See: RAMSI, MASI, Irish Refugee Council
- Speak to the change makers: sign petitions, send your TD a letter, talk to the local church or community centre; let them know that they can do more.
See: Irish Refugee Council, Nasc, Migrant Rights Centre Ireland.
- Spread awareness: just as World Refugee Day seeks to raise awareness, you can do so as well. Consider attending refugee solidarity events and organising your own, holding information sessions, encouraging conversation with friends and family or challenging uninformed views.
The Right to Work campaign was launched on June 14th 2018 at Liberty Hall Dublin by the Movement of Asylum Seekers of Ireland (MASI). This movement is led by asylum seekers and demands the right to work for all asylum seekers. They are seeking access to the labour market without restrictions for those who are under the Direct Provision system. Currently, Ireland is one of two countries in the European Union with a complete ban on the right to work.
Asylum seekers are at present given a meagre allowance of €21.60 per week under Direct Provision, but are not allowed to seek employment in more than 60 work sectors including hospitality and construction. MASI urges the government to end Direct Provision, unfair deportation and forced removal. They also support the right to work and education of all asylum seekers. While the high number of personal accounts shared at the launch may have been disheartening, they are an important step on the road to equality. MASI simply asks for freedom, dignity and justice for all including the asylum seekers.
Who is an ‘Asylum Seeker’?
“Asylum seekers are people seeking protection as refugees, who are waiting for the authorities to decide on their applications. They are legally entitled to stay in the state until their application for protection is decided. They also have a right to a fair hearing of that application and to an appeal if necessary.” – Irish Refugee Council
Photo by, Deepthi Suresh
In the fourth installment in our human rights series, Lynn Rickard looks at the Refugee Crisis in Europe.
In 2015, over one million refugees travelled into the EU zone by sea, while 3,771 were either “dead or missing”, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Two years on, Amnesty International Report 2017/18 reported at least 3,119 people died attempting to cross the Mediterranean Sea to Europe last year. When they land in Europe, refugees suffer overcrowded and unsafe living conditions on Greek Islands. In December, around 13,000 asylum-seekers remained in limbo, stranded on the islands.
This week, Medicins Sans Frontieres (MSF) reported that 629 Libyan migrants on a rescue ship Aqaurius in the Mediterranean were refused entry in both Malta and Italy. The decision comes after Italy’s recent elections, with the new deputy prime minister and interior minister Matteo Salvini stating that his country’s ports would remain closed.
Malta and Italian Rescue authorities have sent food and water supplies to Aquarius. After waiting off the coast of Sicily since Saturday MSF say some of 629 onboard the rescue ship Aquarius will be accepted in Valencia, Spain. Since 2014, more than 600,000 refugees have arrived in Italy.
According to the UNHCR, 65.6 million people have been forcibly displaced worldwide while 55% of refugees fleeing conflict and persecution come from just three countries: Syria with 5.5 million displaced refugees, Afghanistan 2.5million and South Sudan 1.4 million. Currently the number of stateless people who are “denied basic human rights such as education, healthcare, employment and freedom of movement” exceeds 10 million.
Despite growing opposition to migrants in the EU, the countries that host the most refugees are all outside Europe. They include Turkey, Pakistan, Lebanon, Iran, Uganda and Ethiopia.
What is Ireland doing?
The UNHCR Ireland statistics list the total number of resettled persons in Ireland since 2013 as 1,517. 2015 saw the number of refugees seeking Asylum in Ireland peak with 624 people. Ireland experienced a decrease by almost half in the following year as 325 refugees are recorded as resettling in Ireland and 54 persons this year so far.
The latest Solidarity Session organised by RAMSI (Refugee and Migrant Solidarity Ireland) took place at 7pm on Saturday, April 14th in Jigsaw Dublin. The sessions are a way for musicians living in Direct Provision and from across Ireland to gather together, make music, chat and socialise.
Entry to the event was ten euro and seven euro for students which went towards the artists as well as MASI (Migrants of Asylum Seekers in Ireland) – entry for those living in Direct Provision was free. Though its aim is for asylum seekers to join together for unity, it also campaigns for an end to Direct Provision.
Live music was a big feature of the night, with performances from Real Kid Original, and Syf Khan. Harmony, an Ethiopian Jazz group living in Killarney opened with a brilliant performance.
They were followed by pianist and singer-songwriter Farah Elle, who lit up the room with her set. The Libyan/Irish singer performed her debut album which will soon be released and features pieces that are bilingual; sung in English and Arabic. Her original and unique sound is matched by a fabulous enthusiasm. After the set, the audience and performers came together to finish out the night.
The Solidarity Sessions are a great way to raise awareness on Direct Provision in Ireland and unite music-lovers from all walks of life. The next Solidarity event is a Community Dinner which will take place on Saturday, April 21st, at 3 pm in Jigsaw.
Solidarity dinners are a monthly family-friendly event where people are encouraged to bring along some food, relax and meet new people. This week the Dinner will be hosted by DCHA (Dublin Central Housing Action). The invitation is open to anyone but particularly those living in Direct Provision or emergency accommodation.
Photo courtesy of RAMSI.