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A message from Irish in Britain on World Refugee Day

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Everyone has the right to seek safety, regardless of their identity, origin, or circumstances.

  • Photo Credit: Hellenic Coast Guard

On this World Refugee Day, we hold in mind the courage and resilience of all those fleeing war, violence, and persecution and celebrate the compassion of those who welcome them.

The global refugee population, at over 100 million, has never been higher – a human misery driven by conflict in Europe and worldwide displacements for safety.

This week has seen an appalling loss of life in the Greek Mediterranean, including many women and children yet to be accounted for. It is therefore right that this day re-asserts a founding principle of our common humanity: that everyone has the right to seek safety, regardless of their identity, origin, or circumstances.

Without safe and legal routes tragedies like this, and the loss of lives in the English Channel in November 2021, will continue. These and countless others are the distressing human cost of failed and often unilateral migration polices that undermine international laws that should protect these principles:

  • The right to seek asylum is a fundamental human right.

  • People escaping violence or persecution should be able to cross borders safely.

  • They must not face discrimination at borders or be unfairly denied refugee status or asylum due to their race, religion, gender, or country of origin.

  • They cannot be forced to return if their lives or freedom would be at risk.

Governments everywhere have a shared responsibility to protect refugees. Beyond that immediate peril, refugees need opportunities for recovery, learning, working, and living. It should be possible to return home or rebuild their lives elsewhere, in safety and dignity.  

As a community with a significant global diaspora, we know that immigrants and refugees can bring much to their host communities worldwide: not least prosperity and cultural richness. Our shared humanity should inform how we treat refugees and the countries that, despite their own challenges, host them.

Brian Dalton | CEO, Darren Murphy | Chair

Irish in Britain