Bishops call for State to take in more refugees

Taking in more refugees should be ‘policy priority’ and process should be speeded up

The unfolding crisis in Afghanistan ‘presents Ireland with another opportunity’. Photograph: Mohammad Javadzadeh/AFP

The unfolding crisis in Afghanistan ‘presents Ireland with another opportunity’. Photograph: Mohammad Javadzadeh/AFP

 

Ireland must accept more refugees, as a priority in the context of current events in Afghanistan, and should speed up the process of doing so, the Catholic bishops have said.

Welcoming Ireland’s intervention at the UN Security Council on Afghanistan and the Government’s commitment to accept 150 refugees, they urged that the process “be accelerated and that the acceptance of additional refugees in Ireland should be considered as a policy priority.”

Bishop of Raphoe Alan McGuckian, chair of the Bishops’ Council for Justice and Peace, pointed out that “Ireland, as one of the wealthier nations of the world, must do more for forcibly displaced people in terms of welcome and integration through State and community supports.

“Yes, our hearts are deeply moved by the panicked scenes of people fleeing, but it should not take such scenes and circumstances to force governments to act.”

The unfolding crisis in Afghanistan “presents Ireland with another opportunity to demonstrate our commitment to the protection of human rights, including access to education for all, and to welcome the stranger among us. As Pope Francis reminds us, we are called respond to such challenges with four actions: welcome, protect, promote and integrate,” he said.

He continued: “In the interest of justice and peace, refugees should be welcomed and integrated in our communities. The values of our Irish faith tradition teach us that outreach, encounter and authentic dialogue can bring the true peace that the world needs at this time.”

More generally, he noted how “at the end of 2020 there were 82.4 million forcibly displaced people worldwide. Yet 85 per cent of these are being looked after in the least wealthy nations, with only 15 per cent being accommodated in the wealthier countries of the world, including Ireland. What does this say to us about solidarity and fraternity in our world today?”

The President of the Methodist Church in Ireland Rev Dr Sahr Yambasu has endorsed such calls surrounding “the plight of the Afghan people and responsibilities in Ireland at this time,” particularly by “the group of Irish agencies working on migrant, asylum and refugee rights.”

His Church was “committed to the welfare and dignity of those seeking refuge We recognise our responsibility locally and globally,” he said.