Action - 8 September 2015

en - Re: International Refugee Crisis

September 7th, 2015 Re: International Refugee Crisis Dear Sir We are a group of sisters from the Anglo Celtic Territory of the Little Sisters of the Assumption, an International order of religious women with many years of experience working with displaced peoples. The current situation saddens us and at the same time we are greatly heartened to see the groundswell of response from ordinary Irish people. It reminds us of the welcome we were able to extend to the participants in the Special Olympics in 2003. We are inspired by Pope Francis’ leadership in calling on every parish and religious community in Europe to respond with generosity. However, there is need to discuss how to operationalize and tap into this generosity. We want to express our grave concern about the lack of coherent European, UN and Irish policies to deal with the worsening humanitarian crisis for Refugees fleeing desperate situations. Accordingly, we call for urgent, co-ordinated and committed action backed by political will and based on learning from past initiatives: Irish Government: • We see the need to recall the Dail immediately in order to respond to this urgent refugee crisis, by drawing up a firm plan of action on what Ireland’s response will be. • We feel it is imperative that there be excellent dialogue and more transparency in how services for refugees are developed. There is need for ongoing dialogue between Government and local NGOs and community leaders on the ground e.g. Migrant groups, national NGO’s and major International Aid Agencies so that each group’s different expertise can contribute to the solution. • The resources needed to address the homeless crisis must not be diverted to the refugee crisis. The Irish people need assurance that both of these vulnerable groups, which need different responses, will have their needs addressed simultaneously. We call on our MEPs to offer a generous and humanitarian response on behalf of the people of Ireland at the forthcoming Extraordinary EU Justice and Home Affairs meeting on 14th Sept. • We acknowledge the good work of the Irish Navy in the Mediterranean. However, we believe Ireland can contribute more to the European initiative by taking a bigger number of refugees and, learning from our own famine and immigration stories, blaze a trail of generosity and humanity. • We hope that the announcement today suggesting use of empty army barracks will not be a continuation of the negative policies brought to light in the Report of the Working Group on Protection Processes and Direct Provision. EU and UN: • With Europe facing the biggest refugee crisis since World War Two, these major powers must unite and pool resources to address this scandal. Whether the drawing on a Marshall Plan-like initiative after WW 11 or the International Peace-Keeping model, they must move IMMEDIATELY. They must set up SAFE and LEGAL processes on both sides of the Mediterranean counteracting trafficers, enabling humanitarian treatment and simplifying applications for asylum in Europe. • Further to the immediate action required, the EU and UN need to work on the structural causes of the crises in the relevant countries, many of which have been caused by Western military interventions, arms sales and exploitation of natural resources by Multinational companies. In summary, we stress again that the magnitude of this crisis challenges the EU, the UN and NGOs to support immediate and long term solutions to the political, ethnic and religious conflicts forcing people to take such desperate measures for freedom. We believe this is a time for all key powers to show unity and leadership to address this crisis. Yours sincerely, Sr. Lena Deevy, LSA on behalf of the Justice, Peace & Integrity of Creation Group of the Little Sisters of the Assumption, Terenure, Dublin