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There's a lot Ireland can do for People Fleeing from War
anti-war / imperialism |
Monday September 07, 2015 10:40 by shannonwatch - shannonwatch shannonwatch at gmail dot com 087 8225087
Shannonwatch, 4th September 2014
As people flee from countries ravaged by war and poverty and European governments shut their doors in their faces, we have responsibilities as human beings to act. We must demand that our governments do everything they can to end the cruel deaths we see happening in the backs of lorries, in the sea, in other parts of the long tortuous journeys that the people of Syria, Eritrea, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, South Sudan, Eritrea and elsewhere undertake in order to stay alive.
People like 3 year old Aylan Kurdi and his 5 year old brother Galib should not have to die while European leaders argue over the number of refugees to allow into their country. If the European Union has any meaning or relevance it must be to protect the basic human rights of people who desperately need protection, who have reached a point where they are prepared to risk everything, even their lives, to survive. And while it is good to see a widespread public reaction internationally to the death of Aylan Kurdi, the tragedy is that thousands of other children have died by drowning or from thirst and starvation as they crossed deserts. Countless others have been trafficked for exploitation, and their suffering has been largely ignored.
Instead of building wire barricades and sending boats back to Northern Africa we urgently need to put mechanisms in place to ensure routes to safety for people fleeing for survival. Every country in Europe, including Ireland, must increase the number of refugees it takes in, with immediate effect. It must also put in place the supports required to enable people traumatised by war, hunger, displacement, the death of loved ones, exploitation by traffickers and more to live in environments where their dignity and well-being are respected. Ireland has agreed so far to take only 600 refugees with a possibility of some more later. The government has sent Irish Naval ships to the Mediterranean where they have rescued over 6,000 people from the water. If we were serious about our humanitarian duties then these 6,000 people would be offered asylum in Ireland and not just dumped into Italy, compounding Italy's refugee problems.
Emergency government meetings can be held to deal with banking crises. Why not do the same for crises of humanity?
Our country can afford it. Austerity has brought more than a fair share of suffering to Irish people but there is still enough wealth in the country to save the lives of children like Aylan and Galib.
There is also something else that we in Ireland can do. We can, with immediate effect, stop contributing to the conflict and wars that cause people to have to flee for survival. Right now, armed US troops and military planes move through Shannon Airport on a daily basis. We contribute to the NATO-led operations in Afghanistan, a country that has been brought to its knees by the US/NATO invasion, and we supported the equally devastating NATO invasion of Libya. And we provide tax breaks and other supports to companies that develop and manufacture components used in the lethal weapons systems that kill innocent people throughout the Middle East. We can end all this immediately, and we can spend the money saved helping people who lives have been destroyed by war.
We should also bear in mind that groups like ISIS and the Al-Nusra Front that are causing terror all across the Middle East were born from the invasion of Iraq, evolving from al-Qaeda's Iraq franchise into the organised militias they are today. Ireland provided material support for that invasion by making Shannon Airport available to the invading US military. We took part in the occupation of Afghanistan. We turned a blind eye to the CIA rendition flights and assassination crews that used Shannon as a base for practices that caused loathing of the West. We tacitly supported plans for military intervention in Syria, for the "no fly zones" that are a euphemism for aerial bombardment, and for Turkish incursions across the border.
As a result of all this we have an increased responsibility to act, to right the wrongs we helped cause. The global military industrial complex that lies behind the "floods of migrants" spoken about by Europe's leaders has sucked in governments and corporations as well as non-government terrorist organisations, and has contributed to increasing levels of inequality and fear in countries where the weapons of war are being designed and developed. Its time Ireland took a stand and said enough is enough. As a country that claims to promote peace and justice we cannot continue to do the opposite.
Finally, let us not forget our own famine coffin ships and the hundreds of thousands of Irish people who were forced to migrate for economic reasons. Very many of these Irish emigrants experienced the kindness of strangers, yet the Irish Government is now failing in its humanitarian duty of care.
We can still show humanity. All it takes it the will to act.