Sinn Féin’s Foreign Affairs spokesperson, Seán Crowe TD, today met with the Head of the UN’s Refugee Agency’s (UNHCR’s) Protection Service for the Middle East and North Africa region, Gráinne O Hara, as part of an Oireachtas Foreign Affairs Committee meeting.

Deputy Crowe said:

“I have repeatedly raised the refugee and humanitarian crisis in the Foreign Affairs Committee and in the Dáil, and we had a very important discussion with Ms O Hara today.

“Almost 5 million Syrians are refugees abroad and 6.6 million are internally displaced, while 13.5 million people in Syria are in need of humanitarian assistance.

“I am hugely concerned about how the EU has dealt with this huge humanitarian crisis and how the Irish Government has been dragging its feet on the relocation and resettlement of refugees in Ireland.

“The situation facing internally displaced people in Syria and Iraq, and those who have had to flee abroad in search of protection is truly heart breaking.

“I specifically questioned Ms. O Hara on the UNHCR’s view of the EU-Turkey deal, which I believe is leading to human rights violations.

“I also raised my concerns over reports that the Turkish Government is refusing and delaying UNHCR access to asylum seekers in refugee camps after they were deported from Greece to Turkey.

“I am deeply concerned for the vulnerable families and children in refugee camps in the region and the very disturbing reports of young girls being sold off into marriages by desperate families who are refugees in Lebanon, Jordan, and Turkey.

“When I questioned Ms. O Hara on this issue, I was happy to hear that the UNHCR is working to tackle this terrible issue, but it needs the support to do more to stamp out this gross human rights violation.”