Prejudice and asylum seekers

 

Sir, – It is shocking and hurtful to hear the outrageous negative views expressed in some media outlets lately regarding asylum seekers and refugees.

I do understand some of the fears and concerns that people have towards asylum seekers and refugees, especially in rural areas that have few or no migrant residents.

I fully understand the concept of “looking after our own first”.

I share concerns about the impact on local services if people seeking asylum are accommodated in the area.

I understand the fear of strangers coming into the community.

Nevertheless, some of the negative opinions expressed in recent weeks are based merely on prejudice and ignorance towards asylum seekers and refugees.

We have to remember that there are good people and bad people in this world, including in Ireland. The fact that an individual is looking for a place of safety, a place of sanctuary, does not mean that they are a bad person.

It is only fair and right to consider other people’s feelings before making hateful remarks publicly.

No one knows the pain we feel inside, the emotions we never show.

The fact that we left our families and friends and we are on this lonely road, with so much uncertainty for the future, this does not make us criminals.

Most of us are looking for safety, freedom of expression, human rights, to be treated as a citizen with dignity. Some of us will never see our family and friends again. Do people even think about how it feels before they make these hateful statements?

I have been living in a direct provision centre for four years and although the direct provision system is not perfect, I still thank the Government for providing me with safety when I needed it. I have the opportunity to exercise my freedom of speech something that I couldn’t do in my country of origin.

I thank God for all the Irish people around the country, especially in Portlaoise and Dublin, who did not put me in any box but took time to get to know who I was and welcomed me into their community. – Yours, etc,

ROSEMARY KUNENE,

(Chairwoman,

Voice of Migrants Ireland),

Portlaoise,

Co Laois.