Monday 5 December 2016

'Should they be pushed back out to sea?' - Calls for Ireland to welcome more refugees and introduce open-door policy

Sasha Brady

Published 01/03/2016 | 10:27

Stranded refugees and migrants are pushed back by Greek riot police after they tried to storm Macedonia from the Greek side of the border during a protest, near the Greek village of Idomeni, February 29, 2016
Stranded refugees and migrants are pushed back by Greek riot police after they tried to storm Macedonia from the Greek side of the border during a protest, near the Greek village of Idomeni, February 29, 2016

The UN special representative for international migration Peter Sutherland has made a heartfelt plea to European leaders to respond to the refugee crisis appropriately.

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"[Ireland] can certainly take the million refugees that come across on an annual basis over the last couple of years, if it is properly organised," said the former Fine Gael attorney-general and chairman of the London School of Economics.

"It's not good enough to say we can't take them. If we can't take them, what is your suggestion as to what is to be done?

"Should they be pushed back out to sea? Sent back to Syria?

"After the second world war, we agreed as a community that we would take refugees - that is people who are fleeing persecution. Those who say we're taking too many, what do you suggest is to be done?

"There is no answer except to welcome them. There is no answer to this except to be humane," he said when speaking to Newstalk Breakfast presenter Ivan Yates.

"The Irish [absorption] figure is not bad relative to some others but the more we can take the better. We have to be vocal in support of the [open-door] approach Angela Merkel is taking."

The German Chancellor has rejected a proposal to introduce a limit on the number of refugees allowed into her country despite divisions within her government and has called for a "collective way" for Europe to deal with the refugee crisis.

Speaking to public broadcaster ARD, Ms Merkel said: “There is so much violence and hardship on our doorstep. “What’s right for Germany in the long term? There, I think it is to keep Europe together and to show humanity."

The statement follows news of developing tensions in the French port of Calais on Monday as authorities began the process of dismantling part of the migrant camp known as the 'Jungle', home to thousands of recently displaced refugges.

Clashes have also broken out on border of Greece and Macedonia when refugees uprooted the fence on the Greek in an effort to get into Macedonia.

As a result, Macedonian police tightened their border controls, therefore pinning refugees into Greece and adding further pressure to an already backed-up refugee trail.

"One thing is clear," said Mr Sutherland. "Many of [the refugees] are simply not going to give up. The want to go to [northern Europe] and the want to apply for asylum which many of them are entitled to."

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