Claim taxpayers here funding ‘moral crimes’ in Mediterranean

Irish nurse says she witnessed torture of migrants in EU-funded detention centres in Libya

 Aoife Ní Mhurchú of Medicines Sans Frontiers Ireland met with Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney, above,  on Thursday. Photograph: Henry Nicholls/Reuters

Aoife Ní Mhurchú of Medicines Sans Frontiers Ireland met with Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney, above, on Thursday. Photograph: Henry Nicholls/Reuters

 

Irish taxpayers are “funding” human rights abuses and “moral crimes” in the Mediterranean, an Irish nurse working in the region has warned.

Aoife Ní Mhurchú of Medicines Sans Frontiers (MSF) Ireland was speaking after meeting Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney on Thursday.

She was part of a delegation of medics and search and rescue teams working with migrants in southern Europe who met the Tánaiste.

Briefing Oireachtas members following the meeting, they called for the redeployment of the Irish Navy to search and rescue missions in the region and an end to all EU funding and support to the Libyan coast guard and migrant detention regime.

Ms Ní Mhurchú described treating migrant victims of severe violence in places of detention in Libya. She said she also treated men and women victims of sexual violence. *

“Let be there no doubt, no doubt whatsoever, as to the complicity of the EU in the intense suffering of migrants and refugees at sea and in Libya.”

Intercepted at sea

An estimated 700,000 migrants from across sub-Saharan Africa are thought to be in Libya with about 7,000 in EU-funded detention centres. Many detainees have been intercepted at sea while attempting the crossing to Europe.

The Irish Navy ended its search and rescue missions in the Mediterranean in April where, since 2015, it had rescued an estimated 18,000 people.

Among those briefing TDs and Senators was Ismail Ahmed (19), from Darfur, Sudan, who was rescued at sea while trying to cross from Tripoli to Italy in 2016.

He was brought to Italy where he slept for over a week at a train station before continuing by train and on foot through Italy and France, to Calais.

Unaccompanied minors

He had no money at any point. He spent months in the Calais “Jungle”. Following a chance meeting with migrants’ rights activist Caoimhe Butterly in the Jungle, he was accepted as part of a Government commitment to take 200 unaccompanied minors from Calais, and arrived in 2017.

He has been learning English only since he arrived in Ireland and described the boat journey he embarked three years ago.

“Before I cross the sea, it was night time. They told us it would take three or four hours to get to Italy. [We were] two days in sea. We just see the moon.

“[We were] stopped by men with guns...They follow us for six hours. What I have seen is absolutely unacceptable.. You see the dying, the risk .

“I would say to the EU and everyone here, the people who are still in sea, please rescue them because this is their humanity. It is very difficult.. I hope for everyone to make this change, to help these people.

“Some people are forced to leave. We have to stand with them.. In Libya it is not life. It is all guns and taking your money.”

He thanked Ms Butterly and the Government. “This is huge thing to do for humans, for us. I hope all the best for Irish people and for Ireland to be a great country in the world.”

* This article was amended on November 8th, 2019