In the fourth installment in our human rights series, Lynn Rickard looks at the Refugee Crisis in Europe.
In 2015, over one million refugees travelled into the EU zone by sea, while 3,771 were either “dead or missing”, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Two years on, Amnesty International Report 2017/18 reported at least 3,119 people died attempting to cross the Mediterranean Sea to Europe last year. When they land in Europe, refugees suffer overcrowded and unsafe living conditions on Greek Islands. In December, around 13,000 asylum-seekers remained in limbo, stranded on the islands.
This week, Medicins Sans Frontieres (MSF) reported that 629 Libyan migrants on a rescue ship Aqaurius in the Mediterranean were refused entry in both Malta and Italy. The decision comes after Italy’s recent elections, with the new deputy prime minister and interior minister Matteo Salvini stating that his country’s ports would remain closed.
Malta and Italian Rescue authorities have sent food and water supplies to Aquarius. After waiting off the coast of Sicily since Saturday MSF say some of 629 onboard the rescue ship Aquarius will be accepted in Valencia, Spain. Since 2014, more than 600,000 refugees have arrived in Italy.
According to the UNHCR, 65.6 million people have been forcibly displaced worldwide while 55% of refugees fleeing conflict and persecution come from just three countries: Syria with 5.5 million displaced refugees, Afghanistan 2.5million and South Sudan 1.4 million. Currently the number of stateless people who are “denied basic human rights such as education, healthcare, employment and freedom of movement” exceeds 10 million.
Despite growing opposition to migrants in the EU, the countries that host the most refugees are all outside Europe. They include Turkey, Pakistan, Lebanon, Iran, Uganda and Ethiopia.
What is Ireland doing?
The UNHCR Ireland statistics list the total number of resettled persons in Ireland since 2013 as 1,517. 2015 saw the number of refugees seeking Asylum in Ireland peak with 624 people. Ireland experienced a decrease by almost half in the following year as 325 refugees are recorded as resettling in Ireland and 54 persons this year so far.