Tag Archives: Migrants

Migrant rescue ship Aquarius

AFP reports:

European countries faced pressure on Tuesday to resolve a fresh standoff with the operators of the migrant rescue ship Aquarius which is stranded for the second time in the Mediterranean carrying 141 people.

France said it was in touch with the other EU nations to “rapidly” find a port where the Aquarius could dock after it was refused entry by Italy and Malta, the two countries closest to its current location.

The Aquarius, which was left stranded with 630 migrants on board in June after being turned away by Rome and Valletta, resumed rescue operations off the Libyan coast last week.

France again voiced disapproval of Italy’s “very tough political stance” — milder language than two months ago when President Emmanuel Macron accused his Italian partners of “cynicism and irresponsibility”.

The 141 migrants on board the Aquarius were picked up on Friday in two separate operations and are in a stable condition, the French charity that operates the Aquarius, SOS Mediterranee, said.

EU faces fresh standoff over Aquarius migrant boat (Yahoo)

Pic: GavinLeeBBC

Meanwhile…

Via IOM UN Migration

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From top: Turkish soldiers patrolling in Hatay province along Turkey’s border wall with Syria in Feburary; and Edel McGinley, director of the Migrant Rights Centre Ireland 

The development of EU border security is not only costing lives, it’s also serving to deepen the demographic dilemma facing Europe.

Edel McGinley writes:

Last Saturday, at the start of World Refugee Week, Turkey’s border guards shot dead 8 Syrian refugees – four women, one man, and three children – fleeing a war-torn country. This is truly appalling, but it received very little media attention. Is this our new normal?

There is no good reason to deny people seeking protection access to a country, though people with vested political and economic interests will try to say otherwise.

Let’s take a step back and look at what is often missing from the debate surrounding such terrible tragedies.

Border security creates violence, dehumanises and increasingly facilitates the indiscriminate killing of innocent people. This is not just on the Turkey-Syria border, but at borders across the world and at our EU borders, in our name and paid for with public funds.

The EU Turkey deal – an external border agreement to readmit refugees and migrants from Greece to Turkey – reinforces the EU policy approach of externalising our borders. This was the case with Libya, whose agreement with the EU blocked the movement of people from Africa to the EU until the fall of Gadhafi.

A lucrative industry has grown up around border security. The excellent Migrants’ Files follows funds that flow through public and private hands to expose corporate interests and arms dealers at the heart of EU border security and policy development.

But the shoring up of EU borders is not a new phenomenon and has been in progress for a long time. Between 2007 and 2013, EU funds favoured border investment over investment in people seeking protection. In Spain, the EU gave 30 times more to border controls than it spent on refugee supports. In the same period, Greece was allocated 10 times its refugee budget to ‘control’ its borders.

So no veiled approach there – clearly, EU policy favours exclusion and coercion over rights integration and inclusion. This is not surprising, given the EU’s response to people seeking protection at our borders. However, the crisis facing the EU’s migration system is not limited to its borders and the large-scale movement of people.

Missing from political debate are the facts that the EU needs labour; there are limited channels to allow that labour to come; and our policies deny rights and protections to those who do come.

Europe faces demographic challenges: there is a declining population of working age and the number of dependent older people is increasing. The fact is that the EU’s workforce will decline by approximately 50 million by 2060.

In tandem, long-term care is the fastest-growing area in the health and social care sector within the OECD. The number of people aged 65 and over is projected to almost double over the next 50 years to reach approximately 152 million in 2060. People living with long-term illness and disability are also projected to increase.

In Ireland, someone turns 80 every 30 minutes.

The lack of joined-up thinking in response to the humanitarian crisis of our times is astonishing. Connecting the large-scale movement of people and the need for up to 50 million workers would seem like a no-brainer. A small child could join these dots better than the EU Commission and our political leaders.

As of May 30th 2016 (last available stats) out of the 4,000 people Ireland has agreed to accept under relocation and resettlement fewer than 300 people have been resettled and only one family of 10 relocated from Greece.

I am not saying that everyone who comes to Ireland will have the qualities, skills and desire to provide care services, but that we are in a pivotal moment: a moment where we have to pay attention to demographic change and how to address it.

Unemployment is falling and our economy is growing. We need more people to support our aging populations, through tax revenue and to bolster our social welfare system. As a society we have a duty to care for those who are vulnerable, including older people, children and people seeking refuge. Unfortunately we have never been great at forward planning, despite repeated warnings issued to the Government.

It seems like we want it every way. We need a strong social welfare system to provide a social safety net for our aging population but don’t want to open up channels for migration outside of the EU which will alleviate this. We want cheap flexible labour with limited rights so people find it so unbearable that they don’t put down roots, and we think this is how to extract the best labour from them.

The irony is we could have it all. We could have more secure pensions and a greater tax take; we could have stronger links with countries all over the world; we could have a care system that works for carers and those in need of care; and we could reach out to people fleeing war, conflict and destitution and give them a safe place to live and work. These possibilities are not mutually exclusive – in fact, they’re deeply intertwined.

If Ireland is to be attractive to people to come here, to live and work and raise families, we need a system that is responsive, that strengthens rights and protections for families and workers. Ireland and the EU must adapt to our new reality.

The inescapable fact is that we need more migration not less; that we can’t survive on our own and that we live in an inter-reliant world.

Edel McGinley is the director of the Migrant Rights Centre Ireland (MRCI) and Chair of PICUM, the Platform for International Co-operation on Undocumented Migrants.

Pic: Human Rights Watch/Anadolu Agency

lesbos

Caoimhe Butterly writes:

I’ve spent the past few months working with various volunteer and solidarity structures in Greece, Serbia, Croatia and Calais. In response to the degrading conditions, dislocation and discrimination that many of those seeking refuge face as they travel, volunteer networks have attempted to embody practical solidarity and real welcome.

These groups have spent time with and learnt from the courage, resilience and dignity of the women, men and children who are journeying such long distances in the hopes of re-building lives of safety and stability.

I’m travelling back to Lesvos/Lesbos on November 10 with a group of experienced, calm and dedicated medics from Ireland- nurses, mid-wives, paediatric doctors, EMTs and a surgeon- and logistical support volunteers.

We will work alongside existing medical groups and volunteer networks as a mobile unit, responding to the medical and other practical needs of those surviving the winter crossing in rubber dinghies and decrepit wooden boats. We are covering our costs through friends and family so the money raised here [link below] will be spent on procuring additional medical supplies and vital medical equipment…

Medical support/solidarity, Lesvos (GofundMe)

Yesterday: A Drop In The Aegean

Pic by Radu Buema

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Refugees trying to enter the back of a truck near the entrance of the Channel Tunnel in Calais, France this summer

Pól Ó Muirí, in the Irish Times, writes:

“While learning Irish in Donegal in the 1980s, I noticed that there were very few men of my age around. “They are away working on the Channel Tunnel,” I was told… And the Channel Tunnel is in the news again. There they are, migrants on the other side, trying to get through.

…The whole thing is a bit frightening isn’t it, all those people throwing themselves at the fences at the mouth of the tunnel that the Donegal ones helped build?

“…When the camera panned back to show men standing and watching, with all the dignity they could muster, that I suddenly realised I was seeing my grandfather in Scotland, my father in England. There they are. Trying to earn a living. Trying to survive. Do you see your family in their faces too? Look a little closer. Don’t be afraid. Those people at the fence are from Donegal and Mayo, Leitrim and Galway. They are from little villages in the glens, townlands on the edge of the Atlantic, small holdings in the mountains. Don’t be afraid. Who knows?”

An Irishman’s Diary: Migrants at the Channel Tunnel – built by Irish migrants (Pól Ó MuiríIrish Times)

Pic: NBC News

merkel

“….[today] as Merkel met a group of 14- to 17-year-olds in the gymnasium of their school in the northern city of Rostock.

During the discussion, entitled “Good Life in Germany”, Reem, a Palestinian, told Merkel in fluent German that she and her family, who arrived in Rostock from a Lebanese refugee camp four years ago, are soon to face deportation.”
Merkel responded by saying she understood, but that “politics is sometimes hard. You’re right in front of me now and you’re an extremely sympathetic person. But you also know in the Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon are thousands and thousands and if we were to say you can all come … we just can’t manage it.”

Gut times.

Angela Merkel tells sobbing asylum seeker why she cannot stay in Germany (Guardian)

Thanks John Gallen

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Migrants being rescued by the Irish Navy on LÉ Eithne off the coast of Libya last night and this morning.

RTE reports:

“At around 9am this morning the LÉ Eithne came across 100 migrants on board a rubber dinghy and a rescue operation is under way [off the coast of Libya]. These operations follow the successful rescue of 201 migrants who were found in five makeshift boats yesterday.”

Meanwhile, Neil Michael in the Irish Daily Mail, reporting on the 201 migrants rescued yesterday, writes [not online]:

“The migrants were last night due to be transferred to the 176m British Royal Navy assault ship, the HMS Bulwark, on which they will be transported to a port of safety in Italy.

LÉ Eithne rescues 300 migrants off Libyan coast (RTE)

Pic: RTE and Photocall Ireland