EU response to refugee crisis a failure, says Amnesty Ireland chief

Wealthy nations have shown a “complete absence of leadership and responsibility” in response to refugee crisis, according to the human rights organisation

The refugee crisis is only set to get worse due to the selfish policies of richer nations, according to a new Amnesty International report. 

Just 10 countries around the world – accounting for less than 2.5% of global GDP – have taken in more than half of the word’s refugees according to a “comprehensive assessment of the global refugee crisis” published by Amnesty International today.

Colm O’Gorman, Executive Director of Amnesty International Ireland, said the EU needs to share more responsibility in response to the growing crisis.

“The EU’s policy of putting up high walls, putting up barriers to stop people from getting here has failed,” he said.

“We are seeing people in their thousands dying in the Mediterranean. We are seeing appalling human rights violations as a consequence of that and most recently we have seen the EU entering into these really shocking deals, for instance the one that we saw most recently with Turkey.

“Right now the EU is also pursuing really dodgy deals to limit the flows of refugees and migrants with countries like Libya and Sudan.”

The Amnesty report comes as the Italian coastguard announced that more than 6000 people were rescued from the Mediterranean yesterday - one of the highest numbers recorded on a single day. 

Almost five million people have fled Syria in the last five years according to Amnesty with the majority taken in by just three countries: Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan.

The report highlights the fact that Lebanon - which has a similar size population to Ireland is hosting over 1.1 million refugees from Syria.

And while the plight of Syrian refugees has received much media attention, refugees from other regions including 5.3 million Palestinians, 2,7 million Afghans and 1.1 million Somalis, are also being neglected, in some cases for decades.

“It is time for leaders to enter into a serious, constructive debate about how our societies are going to help people forced to leave their homes by war and persecution,” said Amnesty International Secretary General Salil Shetty.

“They need to explain why the world can bail out banks, develop new technologies and fight wars, but cannot find safe homes for 21 million refugees, just 0.3 percent of the world’s population.”