Call for humanity following signing of EU deal to return migrants

The Immigrant Council of Ireland has called for humanity following the signing of a new deal between the European Union and the Government of Afghanistan, outlining plans to forcibly return migrants to Afghanistan.

The deal was signed Wednesday, October 4th during the ‘Brussels Conference on Afghanistan’, co-hosted by the European Union and the Government of Afghanistan.

Under the terms of the agreement, the “Joint Way Forward on migration issues between Afghanistan and the EU”, EU member states may use scheduled or specific flights from several countries to send back Afghan migrants, with a number of stipulations regarding the number of people who can be removed.

The possibility of building a dedicated terminal for return in Kabul airport will also be discussed by both sides.

Commenting on the agreement, Brian Killoran, Chief Executive of the Immigrant Council (Pictured above with founder of the Immigrant Council of Ireland, Sr Stan and Chair John Cunningham) said:

“Forcibly returning migrants back to their home country is not a sustainable and humanitarian response to the crisis – these people are fleeing war and death, returning them is not an active solution to the crisis.

“The EU is effectively putting men, women and children in danger by returning them to the situations they are fleeing.”

The Immigrant Council of Ireland are today also releasing the first of their new fortnightly round-ups of statistics on the forced migration crisis in the Mediterranean.

Over 3,500 people have lost their lives in 2016 crossing the Mediterranean to seek refuge in Europe.

The statistics released by the Immigrant Council of Ireland include:
· 3,502 people have been reported dead / missing.
· At least 600 children have died trying to reach Europe this year.
· There have been 320,533 arrivals to Europe so far in 2016.
· In the past two days, more than 70 Italian coastguard-led operations rescued over 10,000 migrants off the coast of Italy.
· With the return of the LÉ James Joyce to Irish shores this week, Irish naval ships have participated in the rescue of over 12,500 migrants to date.

Commenting on those statistics, Brian Killoran said:

“Since we passed the 3,000 death toll mark in late July of this year, a further 500 people have lost their lives trying to seek refuge in Europe.

“Within these figures, there are over 600 children known to have lost their lives. This loss of life cannot continue at its current rate.

“We are repeating our call on Irish and all European Governments to come up with a sustainable and humanitarian response to the crisis. In addition to the deal with Afghanistan, this week has seen news from France of intentions to shut down the refugee camp in Calais – with no solutions proposed for the hundreds of families and unaccompanied children who will be expelled with no alternatives for food or shelter.

“We must remember that these are men, women and children with hopes and dreams, not mere statistics and we must not allow them to be faceless burdens.

“Their safety and wellbeing must be at the centre of all decision making.

“Until we provide safe passage to those making this journey, men, women and children will continue to lose their lives.

“We are also asking the Irish public to not turn a blind eye to the crisis, and to make their voices heard and demand that the Irish and EU member state governments develop a human-rights based response to the crisis.”