EU’s stance on distressed refugees runs counter to its principles

It is with a sense of deep regret and dismay that we read of the European Union’s continued march towards securing its borders, paying off Turkey to keep them out and returning those who are seeking refuge (Irish Examiner, March 7).
EU’s stance on distressed refugees runs counter to its principles

Indeed, the main focus seems to be one of keeping people out, whilst at the same time showing scant regard for those who are currently in camps within the EU and who have found themselves consigned to conditions of squalor and inhumanity.

Such is the time-honoured response of governments to the exclusion of oppressed and unwanted people, and it has been employed throughout history, particularly in advance of human rights atrocities.

It is an effective policy, as it keeps the human suffering at arm’s length, and directs the minds of the unwitting public towards other issues, many of which create fear and sustain stereotypes: ‘Why are they coming here?’ and ‘what will we do with them?’

There is, however, a reality here that is not being addressed: Thousands of human beings are suffering terribly within the boundaries of this union and little is being done to address this, except by small non-governmental organisations and volunteers.

We have recently visited and assisted in both the Calais Le Jungle refugee camp and on the shores of Lesbos, in Greece, and have seen the human plight first-hand. We have learned of the real situations of the many people who are fleeing war, terror, and totalitarianism.

We have attended to women in labour — or worse, miscarrying — on the beaches. We have witnessed the scars of adults and children, caused by bombs and shrapnel; older people, their eyes drained of life and hope, dragged away from everything that they had known. Parents who, having set out to save their 13 children, reached Europe with only six alive. These are real people and real stories.

We are appalled by the stance of a EU founded on respect of human rights.

We are equally disgusted by our own government failing to speak out. The actions of governments and the realities of these camps hark back to a darker time in European history, one which surely we cannot repeat.

Dr Fintan Sheerin

Lecturer in Intellectual Disability Nursing

University of Dublin,

Trinity College Dublin

Prof Damien McCormack

Eccles’ Street,

Dublin 7.

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