Press Release: Ireland called to step up action to save lives

Picture depicting shape of heart, formed by people posing together on beach.The Irish Refugee and Migrant Coalition has today (17th May 2017) issued a press release calling on the Irish Government to take urgent action in response to the increasing number of lives being lost as refugees and other forced migrants attempt to cross the Mediterranean Sea.

More than 20 people are missing and feared dead after another boat attempted to cross the Mediterranean today. This brings the total number of people who have died crossing the Mediterranean this year to over 1,350. The Mediterranean route is now the most dangerous crossing in the world.
Caoimhe Sheridan, Coordinator of the Irish Refugee and Migrant Coalition (IRMC), a group of over 20 Irish NGOs, stated ‘Tragedies like this continue to occur due to lack of safe and legal routes to Europe for people in need of international protection. Men, women and children board unseaworthy boats, embarking on very dangerous and life-threatening journeys. These journeys so often end in death and families being torn apart’.
Ms. Sheridan continued ‘In addition to the fact that there are virtually no safe and legal paths to safety, EU Search and Rescue missions are now framed as narratives of ‘countering smuggling’ and ‘migration management’ which has become the focus over saving lives. The humanitarian nature of search and rescue is now clearly a secondary aim’.
Speaking on behalf of the IRMC, the Irish Refugee Council's Nick Henderson said, ‘Ireland needs to do more to ensure safe and legal routes to Ireland. We have committed to relocate and resettle some 4,000 people by the end of 2017, however to date less than one third have actually arrived. Given the record high level of people in need of protection and resettlement, Ireland needs not only to honour its commitments, but also to show leadership and guarantee complimentary legal routes are available to help prevent further deaths at sea’.

The Irish Refugee and Migrant Coalition have previously called on the Irish Government to ensure there are more legal routes available so that people in need of protection can access the EU without having to undertake treacherous journeys. These channels include humanitarian visa and admission programmes, increased resettlement numbers and broader family reunification opportunities. Ireland also needs to honour its commitments under the current EU relocation scheme.