‘In the End, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.’ – Martin Luther King Jr.
The horrifying image of the little boy drowned trying to flee Syria has gone viral in the last twenty four hours. People are outraged and rightly so. It is important we turn that outrage into action. But what can we do?
1. Sign this petition: https://uplift.ie/refugee-crisis
Ireland has allowed a disgracefully low number of refugees into Ireland over the next two years (the current number reported is 520 refugees). German Chancellor Angela Merkel has criticised the Irish intake of refugees in the common European asylum policy, as Germany is now expecting to take in 800,000 migrants in 2015 alone. This petition is a collection of Irish voices saying that we demand that Ireland can facilitate thousands of refugees (closer to 1% of the population just as Germany is), not hundreds.
2. Find your local donation organisation.
There is emergency aid of blankets, tents, food etc being sent to refugee camps around the world. Irish people are historically quite good at donating in times of emergency, and this time should not be any different. Here is one example of where you can donate http://www.gofundme.com/9zwfscys. Social media is also a great place to find your local donation centre.
3. Attend your local solidarity march
Politicians need to know that this issue is important to Irish people. By marching we show that this is an issue worth addressing. We also show that we will not be silent when such travesties are happening in the world. The next march in Dublin has been organised for September 10th.
Find your nearest group (and add new ones under this thread) for info local collection points for aid (set to depart for Calais on 29th or 30th Sept from Ireland) and) discussions and the kind of goods needed for sending:
- Cork Calais Refugee Solidarity
- Belfast Calais Refugee Solidarity Group
- Drogheda Calais Solidarity Group
- Waterford People to People Refugee Emergency Group
- South Dublin/Wicklow Refugee Solidarity
- Dublin Calais Refugee Solidarity.
Again most marches are organised on Facebook so make sure to search for your local one, and if you can’t find one why not organise your own?
4. Challenge anyone who says ‘Oh but Ireland has its own problems, we can’t afford to help’.
There are two ways to approach this sentiment. The first is with the facts. Ireland is a wealthy country. We do not have to pick between ‘helping our own’ and ‘helping them’. We could instead choose between the extreme wealth of some people in Ireland and helping all those who need it. There is enough money in the Irish economy to ensure the basic needs of Irish people and refugees. The problem is that the wealth is not shared equality, instead it is concentrated within the hands of a few. This is our problem, not ‘others’ crossing into our borders.
The second approach is to point to this Facebook status from the Irish Housing Network.
This group are the front liners for Irish housing crisis. So if anyone justifies their position of anti-refugee by referencing Ireland’s housing crisis, let them know that their views don’t match the official campaign line. Humans are humans, we all deserve a home.
5. Stay informed.
This issue has been a problem for many years. It is important that we do not let the issue live in our minds for only one day. There are infographics, news outlets (see Guardian coverage) and organisations that you can check out to keep up to date on the crisis. Keep the conversation going and spread the word.