Ireland must promote itself to refugees, conference hears

‘Just resettling people is not the answer: this problem is going to grow’

Attending the Forming Ireland’s Response to the Refugee and Migration Crises conference at Trinity were President Michael D.Higgins; John Cunningham (left), chair of the Immigrant Council of Ireland; Miriam O’Callaghan, chairperson for the conference;  and David Stanton, Minister of State. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

Attending the Forming Ireland’s Response to the Refugee and Migration Crises conference at Trinity were President Michael D.Higgins; John Cunningham (left), chair of the Immigrant Council of Ireland; Miriam O’Callaghan, chairperson for the conference; and David Stanton, Minister of State. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

 

European Union member states must promote themselves to refugees and migrants arriving in Greece and Italy so they are aware of the asylum opportunities available in smaller countries such as Ireland, a Dublin conference has heard.

Speaking at the Immigrant Council of Ireland’s conference on the Irish response to the refugee crisis, Demetrios G Papademetriou, co-founder of the Migration Policy Institute, underlined the need to address the roots of the crisis before Europe becomes overwhelmed by people arriving on our southern shores.

“This issue is much larger than the response of any one country,” said Mr Papademetriou. “Just resettling people is not the answer: this problem is going to grow. There are countries that we don’t even think about at this time that in two or three years may explode or implode. This isn’t going to be small countries like Syria with 24 million people, it’s going to be a country of 80 million people.”

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“Initially, everyone wanted to go to Germany simply because they know Germany is strong and powerful. But if you’re going to make a new life maybe you’ll be better off in Ireland or Portugal. We need to demonstrate to people the success stories,” he said.

Syrian refugees

The Government has agreed to accept 2,622 asylum seekers under the scheme. A further 273 have been accepted under a programme with the UN to accept 520 people.

In his opening address to the conference, President Michael D Higgins highlighted the importance of integrating refugees and migrants into European society.

“Integration is a vital tool in assisting those newly arrived to flourish and thrive as part of our communities. Our cultures can only be enriched by the diversity of knowledge and experience that we share.”