Irish forces have rescued 15,000 refugees in the Mediterranean

On world refugee day the Irish government is being urged to do more

Irish forces have rescued 15,000 refugees in the Mediterranean

LÉ Eithne. Image: Irish Defence Forces

The Irish defence forces have rescued up to 15,000 refugees in the Mediterranean, including a significant number of children.

Over 5,000 people died making the deadly crossing in 2015, with this year’s figure already over 1,800.

Today marks world refugee day and the Irish government is being urged to do more to help people who have fled their homes.

Ireland has the opportunity to be a leader in the field of successful refugee resettlement if it makes good on its commitments, says the Immigrant Council of Ireland today. 

Offering hope 

CEO of the Immigrant Council of Ireland, Brian Killoran, said: "Right now Ireland has a golden opportunity to show leadership among its EU peers.

"In September 2015 the Irish Government established the Irish Refugee Protection Programme and committed to accepting 4,000 refugees and asylum seekers by end 2017," before adding "However so far only a fraction have arrived in Ireland, less than a third.

"For those who have been successfully brought to Ireland, the opportunity for a life free of fear has opened up a new and hopeful chapter in their lives and the lives of their children."

He finished by saying "We must continue to build upon this, and play our part in offering hope and sanctuary to those who need it most."

Meanwhile, Head of the Irish Refugee Council Nick Henderson says there needs to be an urgent change.

 World Refugee Day 

Marking world refugee day, President Michael D. Higgins said: "World Refugee Day is commemorated each year."

"It is a day chosen to remind us of our moral duty to address the plight of millions of people who have been forced to leave their homes and home lands, be it for reasons related to natural disasters, conflict, ethnic violence or global poverty. 

"It is a day when we should pause, and pay tribute to the strength and resolve of the over 65 million people who have had to overcome countless obstacles and threats as they face dangerous circumstances and an uncertain future."

He finished by saying "We should be happy that, as a global community, we have committed to ‘Leave No-One Behind’ and today, on World Refugee Day, let us, at every level, take the steps necessary to turn this aspiration into a reality."