Comhlámh have co-signed an open letter calling for immediate action from the Irish government following the fire in Moria, Lesbos which has left over 13,000 people destitute.
If Ireland seeks to live up to the platform of promoting human right and being a voice for the voiceless, used earlier this year to secure a place on the UN Security Council, we as a nation need to urgently step up in the moment of crisis for so many.”
Mark Cumming, head of Comhlámh says,
“The impact of the fire at the Moria camp on Lesbos has had a devastating impact on thousands of men, women and children, many of whom are living with both the immediate crisis of being without proper shelter and care but also have complex medical needs. Many families and individuals, including hundreds of unaccompanied minors, are living with severe bodily and psychological traumas as a result of fleeing situations of war and persecution.
To date, the collective response of the EU has compounded rather than eased these circumstances. The EU Commission Pact on Migration and Asylum announced yesterday is couched primarily in terms of security and the fears of members states, rather than the desire and demand for strengthening solidarity, as expressed by the peoples of the EU time and time again.
We call on the Irish government to take a lead in demonstrating practical solidarity, including the urgent relocation of unaccompanied minors and young people as well as vulnerable families and others, from Greece to Ireland. Over 13,000 people have been left destitute following the fire in Moria, and many unaccompanied minors and young people have faced attacks from reactionary movements on Lesbos.
It is not unreasonable to say the pledge to relocate thirty-six children – while a welcome and necessary step – is at the lower end of ambition. If Ireland seeks to live up to the platform of promoting human right and being a voice for the voiceless, used earlier this year to secure a place on the UN Security Council, we as a nation need to urgently step up in the moment of crisis for so many.”
RE: Urgent relocation of unaccompanied minors from the Greek islands to Ireland
Dear Taoiseach, Minister Coveney, Minister McEntee, Minister O’Gorman and Minister Byrne,
We are writing to you today to request the urgent relocation of unaccompanied children and young people from the Greek islands to Ireland. For 400 of those children living on Lesvos, their situation was made much worse on Wednesday the 10th of September, when a fire burnt Moria refugee camp to the ground – leaving them destitute.
Before the fire, Moria refugee camp on the Greek island of Lesvos hosted nearly 13,000 people in inhumane and unhygienic conditions. The majority of the unaccompanied children living in Moria were living amidst adults in overcrowded sections of camp or sleeping rough in the camp’s overspill area.
These children have now fled twice – once from persecution and violence in their home countries and now from the burning camp. They are alone in the world and need a safe place now more than ever.
We welcome the decision taken by the Irish Government in March 2020 to join the ‘Coalition of the Willing’, committing along with 12 other EU member states to take a portion of the 1,600 unaccompanied minors being held on the Greek islands.
However, to date, Ireland has only taken eight of the 36 children they pledged to relocate as part of this initiative. Last week in the Dáil, on the 15th September, the Taoiseach confirmed that following the fires in Moria, Ireland was working to relocate four unaccompanied minors – when EU member states are being asked to show solidarity and welcome a portion of the 400 children from Moria.
Ireland’s commitment to take in just four children is significantly below what we would expect from a country like Ireland with a long history of offering refuge for the most vulnerable and its own history of emigration. Given that Ireland successfully campaigned on a platform of promoting human rights and being a voice for the world’s most vulnerable to secure a non-permanent United Nations Security Council seat for the 2021-2022 term, this tragedy provides Ireland with an opportunity to lead by example.
We are writing today to ask you to do more and ensure Ireland’s contribution extends beyond four unaccompanied children and young people. This includes providing Tusla with the budget needed to do so. Accepting only four still leaves the additional 24 children Ireland has already promised to protect and care for in limbo – and hundreds more besides.
In the wake of this tragedy, we would strongly urge you to work together to accelerate the relocation of the remaining 24 unaccompanied minors to Ireland and commit to welcoming more. The fire in Moria was a completely preventable tragedy and must be met with a swift response to avoid further suffering.
Thank you for taking the time to consider this request – we are more than happy to meet with you to discuss the above in more detail if you wish.
Irish Refugee Council
Nasc, Migrant & Refugee Rights
Migrant Rights Centre Ireland
Immigrant Council of Ireland
Community Work Ireland
Independent Living Movement Ireland (ILMI)
National Youth Council of Ireland
National Women’s Council of Ireland
Children’s Rights Alliance
European Anti-Poverty Network (EAPN) Ireland
Amnesty International Ireland
Irish Council for Civil Liberties