Wednesday, July 16, 2014


Last month World Refugee Day reminded us of the plight of millions of refugees worldwide, but this thought should be kept in mind for as long as war and conflict continue. The world is currently experiencing a refugee crisis, the scale of which was last seen during World War 2. This is largely caused by the Syrian war, which has claimed 80,000 lives, forced 2.5 million people to leave the country and internally displaced a further 6.5 million.

How has Ireland typically reacted to refugee crises? In World War 2, when around 50 million people were displaced by conflict and millions of people persecuted, Ireland hosted 150 Jewish refugees. After Augusto Pinochet’s coup in Chile in 1973, which resulted in thousands of deaths and injuries, Ireland was one of the last EU countries to take Chilean refugees and in the end only took 12 families. The year 1956 stands out, as 541 Hungarian refugees were welcomed in Ireland.

Now, during the greatest refugee crisis since the Second World War, when the UN estimated that 51.2 million people were forcibly displaced people worldwide at the end of 2013, Ireland is taking 90 Syrian refugees.

This number is extremely low. Austria, a country with a GDP per capita not far off Ireland’s, will host 500 Syrians, as will the UK and France. Germany, on the other hand, has committed to providing 30,000 places for Syrians.

Though the efforts of Germany and the rest of the EU seem impressive compared to Ireland, the EU is receiving relatively few refugees when Syria’s neighbouring countries are considered. While 60,000 Syrians have claimed asylum in the EU since the start of the war, more than 2 million have fled to the Syrians neighbouring countries, such as Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey and Iraq. This means that the EU has only received 4% of Syria’s refugees.

Everyday, an estimated 2,000 Syrian refugees enter Jordan. Lebanon, a country the size of Munster, is accommodating 1 million Syrians that have sought refuge there. These countries cannot cope with this huge influx of people. In Lebanon, the population explosion has led to price increases, housing shortages and many social problems.

Moreover, Jordan’s position highlights that Ireland’s low number cannot be justified on cost grounds. Developing countries, like Jordan, take in the vast majority of refugees. Indeed, 80% of the world’s refugees are hosted in developing countries.

All EU states should aim to help ease the pressure off Jordan and Lebanon and endeavour to make a real effort to help the millions of Syrians that have had to flee their home. Ireland, in particular, should commit to host more than just 90 Syrian refugees.

In 2012, the former Justice Minister Alan Shatter admitted with regret that Ireland’s “morally bankrupt” regime of the 1930s kept the doors to this state “firmly closed to German Jewish families trying to flee from persecution and death.” It is not enough to realise our mistakes 60 years too late, now is the time to take responsibility and play our part.

Ciara Dowd

1 comment:

  1. there have very informative article about refugees crisis. and further to solve their problems with help of this article. thank you so much for share this post.

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