Sinn Féin’s spokesperson on Foreign Affairs, Seán Crowe TD, has marked World Refugee Day by calling on the Irish Government to do more to assist refugees.

Deputy Seán Crowe said:

“Today is World Refugee Day and the United Nations has released data which shows that the number of people displaced by conflict is at the highest level since records began.

“The United Nations estimates that 65.3 million people were either refugees, asylum seekers, or internally displaced at the end of 2015. That is approximately 1 person in every 113.

“We all share a collective duty to assist those who have been forced to flee because of war and to tackle the root causes that have created these conflicts in the first place.

“Like many others I welcomed the Government’s pledge last year to take in 4,000 refugees and the huge response from Irish people who offered a bed or accommodation in their own homes.

“Unfortunately we are half way through 2016 and so far this year just one Syrian family has been resettled in Ireland under the EU’s so called relocation programme. This is completely unacceptable and I am calling on the Irish Government to be more proactive in assisting and relocating refugee families to Ireland.

“As a nation we have the resources at our disposal to help these vulnerable people and to also to tackle inequality and poverty in Ireland. We are not constrained to only dealing with one of these issues, rather it about the Irish Government making smarter decisions.

“The Irish Refugee Council in their document, Safe and Legal Pathways to Protection, highlights many of the challenges and opportunities that the Irish Government has to provide safe and legal access to Ireland for those in desperate need of shelter and protection.

“The current system is clearly broken and needs a new approach that will tap into the good will that clearly exists for assisting refugees. It’s long past the time for the Irish Government to seriously confront the growing humanitarian crisis that is impacting on so many vulnerable people.

“The Irish Government also needs to take cognizance of groups like Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) who are now no longer taking funds from the EU in protest against the EU’s shameful policies on the refugee crisis, particularly its recent deal with Turkey.

“The Irish Government needs to listen to those on the front line of this refugee crisis, and demand that the EU-Turkey deal is scrapped.”

Deputy Crowe concluded:

“The increase of support for far right and racist parties in Europe must also be tackled.

“While there is a huge focus on the refugee crisis that is affecting Europe, the UN’s reports states that 86% of the world’s refugees are actually being sheltered in low and middle income countries.

“Collectively we must all make a stand and unite to fight the rising xenophobia that is creeping into European public and political life. Today it’s supposedly around refugees, tomorrow it will be race, gender, religion or politics.”