International Issues

The EU Refugee and Migrant Crisis: A Shared Responsibility

on Wednesday, 27 April 2016. Posted in Issue 78 The Search for Refuge, Poverty & Inequality, International Issues

PdfIconThe EU Refugee and Migrant Crisis: A Shared Responsibility

David Moriarty

Introduction 

We cannot allow the Mediterranean to become a vast cemetery! The boats landing daily on the shores of Europe are filled with men and women who need acceptance and assistance. (Pope Francis)1

During 2015, over one million migrants and asylum seekers risked crossing the Mediterranean Sea in unsafe boats in an attempt to enter the territory of the European Union. For many, though, this hazardous journey led not to the possibility of a new life in a place of safety and opportunity but tragically to their death: over 3,700 men, women and children, including in some cases several members of the same family, died by drowning while attempting to cross into Europe.  

Asylum and immigration systems categorise people seeking entry from other states as ‘asylum seekers’, ‘refugees’, ‘forced migrants’, ‘economic migrants’. Yet it is important to remember that first and foremost these are people – people who share the same human condition that we do, who share the same hopes and dreams of a better life for themselves and their families. Behind the numbers and statistics are people with names and faces. 

Our Common Humanity: Human Rights and Refugee Protection

on Tuesday, 26 April 2016. Posted in Issue 78 The Search for Refuge, Poverty & Inequality, International Issues

PdfIconOur Common Humanity: Human Rights and Refugee Protection

Colin Harvey

Contexts

The global refugee crisis is raising profound questions about the status and effectiveness of protection regimes at all levels. It should also prompt reflection on the present international order and why, despite the plea of ‘never again’, we still witness human rights violations on massive scales. 

The world remains a structurally unequal place, where social injustice is rampant, and individuals and communities are routinely forced to flee their homes. However small it may now feel, the interdependent world we inhabit is not the welcoming place we might expect. Recognition of our common humanity increasingly runs parallel with exclusion, deterrence and deflection. For many, but not all, the world is a much more tightly regulated space, where states determine the contours of movement on a highly instrumental basis. The lives of individuals and communities become secondary to strategic games lacking in mercy and compassion. The plight of the forcibly displaced therefore presents a distinctive set of challenges: to deliver justice to the ‘stranger’ in need and to struggle for justice and peace in our world.  

Pope Francis continues to place great emphasis on refugee protection, and his work has generated a renewed focus on the social doctrine of the Church. Through word and deed, he demonstrates an openness to the humanity of the refugee. This is reflective of a long-standing practical engagement within the Catholic tradition of respect for the human rights of the forcibly displaced, and an embrace of an inclusive concept of ‘refugee’.1 Underpinning this perspective is a strong alignment with many pressing concerns of the modern human rights movement. At its heart is enduring respect for the dignity of the human person, and a conscious negation of all forms of domination and oppression that deny our inherent dignity. The demand is to experience the person first, as someone in need of our support and help. 

Forced Migration: A Challenge for European Solidarity

on Wednesday, 14 May 2014. Posted in Issue 74 Issues for the New EU Parliament?, Poverty & Inequality, International Issues

migrationA boat carrying African asylum seekers and migrants in the Mediterranean Sea between Africa and Italy. © UNHCR/L. BoldriniThe carnage of asylum seekers and migrants making the perilous journey to a better life makes frequent headlines; thousands die every year in the Mediterranean alone. Far too little is done to mitigate the risks such migrants face. Poverty, vulnerability and war are rife in our times, but compassion is in short supply.1

Climate Change: Economics or Ethics?

on Tuesday, 29 October 2013. Posted in Issue 72 Protecting the Environment, Environment, International Issues

Atmospheric pollution through industrial emissions

The Nation State and Individual Self-interest

A recent text dealing with the issue of climate politics coined the term ‘cancer of Westphalia’ to describe the current ailment of the international logjam in addressing what has been described as the greatest problem facing humanity in the twenty-first century.1 It is a rather strange evocation of the peace treaty of 1648 which ended the Thirty Years War of religion in Europe.

Will the Government's Climate Bill Work?

on Tuesday, 29 October 2013. Posted in Issue 72 Protecting the Environment, Environment, International Issues

Introduction

The outline of the Government’s proposed climate legislation (Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Bill 2013: Draft Heads) published in February 2013, was the subject of three full days of hearings by the Oireachtas Joint Committee on the Environment in July 2013.1 The Committee’s report to the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government, Phil Hogan TD, is due this autumn and the Government has promised to introduce its proposed legislation in the Dáil before the end of 2013.

Protecting Ireland's Birds and Biodiversity: Time for Action

on Tuesday, 29 October 2013. Posted in Issue 72 Protecting the Environment, Environment, International Issues

The Curlew: an iconic bird under threat

The Call of the Curlew

Many Irish people will be familiar with the call of the Curlew, a wading bird that breeds in rushy pastures and upland bogs through the summer months. For generations, it has been a cherished and familiar bird of Ireland’s farmed and coastal landscapes. In 1990, Ireland still had a sizeable population of Curlew, at around 5,000 breeding pairs. Now, however, it is estimated that there may be fewer than 200 pairs left. Such has been the decline of the Curlew that its extinction as a breeding bird in Ireland now seems certain unless urgent action is taken. It has become one of two bird species nesting in Ireland that are globally threatened (the other is the Corncrake).

Water for All of Life

on Tuesday, 29 October 2013. Posted in Issue 72 Protecting the Environment, Environment, International Issues

Irish river landscape

Introduction

Water is vital to all of life. All living creatures, including humans, need enough water, of sufficient quality, to survive and thrive. We in Ireland are fortunate: most of the time, our citizens have access to a clean, healthy, supply of water for drinking and sanitation. Around 768 million people, one tenth of the world’s population, do not have this.  

Environmental Initiatives by Church Groups in Ireland

on Tuesday, 29 October 2013. Posted in Issue 72 Protecting the Environment, Environment, International Issues

Throughout Ireland, many individuals, families, schools, businesses, and voluntary groups are endeavouring to take action to protect and enhance the natural environment. In this section, initiatives by four Church groups are described.

The Social Impact of the Economic Crisis in Europe

on Wednesday, 11 July 2012. Posted in Issue 69 The Future of the Euro, International Issues, Economics

Introduction
What is happening in Greece is dramatic; the IMF/EU plan for saving the country is destroying the country; the Greek people are more aware than a year ago that the remedy is killing the patient. It is destroying any kind of solidarity at European level. It can happen to Portugal, Spain, France, Italy and Belgium. The question is not about our public sector or our corrupt government or about the Greeks that are lazy … The question [is] is the IMF changing the actual character of our European social model [?] ... there is impoverishment of our middle class, a return to the countryside, and emigration of our youth. There is a support network at neighbourhood and village level, because public sector formal social support networks have collapsed … People day by day are not any more fighting poverty; they are fighting for survival.1                                                                                                       EAPN Greece

 

The Refugee Convention Sixty Years On: Relevant or Redundant?

on Thursday, 15 December 2011. Posted in Issue 68 After the Housing Bubble, International Issues, Housing Policy

Introduction
Sixty years ago the international community agreed a framework for the protection of refugees, when a diplomatic conference in Geneva adopted the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees. Today, the protection of those compelled to leave their own state, and seek asylum in another, continues to present formidable challenges. The scale of those challenges, and the perceived inadequacies of the Refugee Convention’s response to them, have led some critics to argue that the Convention is now outdated, unworkable and irrelevant.1