Refugees: Myths and Facts

Socialist Worker

MYTH: Ireland is overcrowded and “full up”
REALITY: Ireland is not densely populated. The Republic of Ireland has a population of 4.5 million (Plus 1.5 million in the North) In the 1820’s before the famine it had 8 million. The Population density of Ireland is 65 people per sq km compared to 260 per sq km in the UK.

MYTH: We can’t take more refugees. There are already too many asylum seekers in Ireland who are ‘economic migrants’ taking advantage of the system.
REALITY: By end of May 2015 there were 4,484 asylum seekers in Direct Provision Centres and only 1,147 new applicants. At the end of 2014, in terms of ACTUAL NUMBER OF APPLICANTS Ireland ranked 20th among 31 EU + other European countries. It had received less asylum seekers than Cyprus. In terms of NUMBER OF ASYLUM SEEKERS PER 1M POPULATION Ireland ranked 21st among 31 European countries. Most asylum seekers have fled extremely dangerous, life threatening and inhumane situations. Asylum seekers in Ireland are not allowed to work and receive only €19.50 a week, and are forced to live in grim conditions in Direct Provision Centres.

MYTH: Refugees / boat people are illegal immigrants.
REALITY: The UN Refugee Convention (to which Ireland is a signatory) recognises that refugees have a lawful right to enter a country for the purposes of seeking asylum, regardless of how they arrive or whether they hold valid travel or identity documents. Currently for refugees coming via Mediterranean, the Aegean and Balkans, the EU countries do not offer a safe/’legal’/free passage. The concept of ‘illegal immigrants’ is an absolute myth to deflect from this fact.

MYTH: We should look after our own first. We have enough economic problems here in Ireland.
REALITY: What is stopping us looking after own is the ongoing payments to the bank/bondholder bailout and the massive debt the Irish people have been saddled with because the government puts the interests of its rich cronies before the interests of people. While ordinary people are hit with ongoing austerity and cuts, the likes of Denis O’Brien have increased their wealth by hundreds of millions… From the late 90’s to 2008 Ireland had many more incoming migrant workers and asylum seekers but at the same time unemployment was at its historic lowest. Even if no refugees were allowed in Ireland, the current policies of the government will continue to pay the bailout interest payments and impose austerity.

MYTH: Refugees will make the current homelessness and housing crisis worse.
REALITY: There are 280,000 empty properties in Ireland – more than enough to house both the 130,000 on waiting lists and refugees who are fleeing mass murder in Syria and other places. The only thing stopping us housing everyone is that the properties are in the hands of developers and NAMA. The Government policy is to keep the supply of housing low, to push up rents and house prices thereby making profits for the wealthy landlords and also making people homeless. We could introduce rents caps, take over derelict buildings, build social housing and house everyone – but only if we stop bowing before private profit and the wealthy developers.

MYTH: The reason for so many refuges is the human traffickers. If we stop them we will stop refugees from coming into Europe.
REALITY: It is proven by countless UN, humanitarian aid agency report that the refugees are fleeing war zones, death and torture. This is a fact that even the European governments admit. The reason the refugees take very risky and deadly journeys and pay money to boats to bring them over is because they have no other means of escaping the deadly conditions. People operating these boats are opportunists who are using the Fortress Europe policy as a means to make money from desperate people. If EU wants to put an end to human trafficking and prevent the deaths of thousands of refugees, it is simple. Open the borders and put the human traffickers out of business.

MYTH: The refugees are using the current chaos in Europe to come to here. Why don’t they stay where they were before?
REALITY: The refugee crisis did not begin in mid-2015. The first refugees from Syria were in 2011 when the Assad regime started bombing people. They went to neighbouring countries. There are now 5 Million refugees in Turkey/Jordan/Lebanon. Over the years, with ISIS and US bombing the number of refugees in these countries increased and their conditions worsened. Many are homeless and many of their UN Refugee rights are not recognised by the host countries. The camps are full and people are living desperate conditions without any hope of returning home soon. Refugees first escaped from death to neighbouring countries but they have no certain future and guaranteed safety. In 2013/14, squeezed in these countries, the refugees began to escape to Europe. As their conditioned worsened in 2015 more made their way to Europe. The EU countries have also an obligation to share the care for refugees. It is hypocrisy to outsource the refugee crisis to other places and close European borders. There are also refugees from Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen and African countries who are fleeing escalation of violence and military conflicts.

MYTH: We and the EU have nothing to do with why there are refugees. Why do we have to care about the refugees?
REALITY: The ‘War on Terror’ invasion of Afghanistan by US, Britain and their allies, and the 2003 war in Iraq by US and Western states have created up to 5 million refugees. The US Drone war in Pakistan created up to 1 million refugees. In 2011 Western and NATO intervention in Libya created 300,000 refugees. The war in Syria has created more than 5 million refugees. Post French intervention in Mali there are now 500,000 refugees. Saudi bombing of Yemen using Western weapons and support will create hundreds of thousands of refugees. Palestine under Israeli occupation and bombing has produced 5 million refugees. The EU and EU countries and imperialist invasions are directly responsible for the creation of millions of refugees. Shannon airport is still used by US military planes. The EU has supported dictatorial regimes and sold billions of arms to oppressive states. We ordinary people should stand in solidarity with the refugees and we should also hold our governments responsible for the crisis.

MYTH: The EU and the EU governments are doing their best to help the refugees
REALITY: Not true! Since 2011 and before the aim of EU was to keep the refugees out. Because of the cancellation of rescue operations in late 2014, more than 2000 have drowned. EU governments are fighting with each other to take the least possible quotas over the longest possible time.

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