Sinn Féin’s Spokesperson on Foreign Affairs, Seán Crowe TD, met with Sophie Magennis, Head of Office, UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) Ireland, and Barry Andrews, CEO of Goal, who gave evidence before the Oireachtas Foreign Affairs Committee on the refugee crisis

Deputy Seán Crowe said:

“In recent weeks people’s awareness of the situation has hugely grown, but as we know this crisis has been ongoing for years, and it is now the biggest refugee crisis that Europe has faced since World War Two. The response of the Irish general public and others across Europe, who have shown humanity and solidarity to refugees is inspiring and needs to be harnessed.

“I welcome the momentous work that UNHCR and Goal have done and continue to do in the face of this monumental crisis. Goal alone will reach 850,000 beneficiaries in northern Syria in 2015, and the UNHCR assist millions throughout the world.

“I believe that we need a united EU approach to this crisis. I have long argued that Southern European countries should not have to face this crisis alone purely because of their geographic location. However a humanitarian response won’t end the Syrian war, and there will be no military solution, so the only option is to find political solution.

“Winter is fast approaching and those in refugee camps in Syria, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey urgently need winter ready materials, and do those stuck on the borders of the EU in the western Balkans, and in Greece and Italy.

“I welcome that the Irish Government have agreed to accept 4,000 refugees but more needs to be done. This Government must close and replace the Direct Provision system and work harder on an international level to encourage a cessation of hostilities in Syria and an inclusive peace process. This should happen in parallel with improving social and economic conditions in Ireland, and it is not an either or situation.

“Those countries who have pledged money to UNHCR’s urgent appeal must urgently make this money available and not hide behind their pledges.”