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Symposium at Mary Immaculate College on the current International Refugee Crisis

24 April 2017   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Lorraine Hynes
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Symposium at Mary Immaculate College on the current International Refugee Crisis

On Wednesday 5 April the Development Education and Intercultural Education (DICE) Committee at Mary Immaculate College (MIC) hosted a symposium to examine the international refugee crisis. Among the issues explored at the symposium were:  the nature and scale of the current crisis; Ireland’s response at governmental and non-governmental levels; the nature and extent of Ireland’s direct provision system; and testimonies from those who have direct experience of witnessing the plight of refugees on mainland Europe.

Among those speaking at the event were Jim Clarken of Oxfam Ireland; Jody Clarke of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR); Leonie Kerins of Doras Luimni; Dr Mary Moloney of Mary Immaculate College; and Donnah Vuma, a Limerick-based asylum seeker.

Symposium delegates heard from Jim Clarken of Oxfam Ireland about how closing borders only leads people to take even more dangerous routes to Europe, thereby exacerbating an already grave crisis. He also emphasised that the Italian mafia consider vulnerable refugees more valuable as “commodities” than trade in drugs.  Jody Clarke of the UNHCR stated that innovative approaches such as student visas and community sponsorship can provide safe and legal pathways for refugees fleeing from conflict. Leoine Kerins of Doras Luimni linked the global refugee crisis to local issues by focusing on some of the difficulties faced by families in direct provision. Donnah Vuma from Zimbabwe, now a resident of Knockalisheen Direct Provision Centre, gave voice to the huge social challenges of raising a family in such circumstances while she is prohibited by law from working. The fact that Ireland is one of only two countries in Europe where asylum seekers are not permitted to work was a recurring theme of the symposium. Dr Mary Moloney of MIC concluded the symposium by giving a very moving account of her time working as a volunteer with children and families in a refugee camp in Mytilene, Greece last December.

Dr Carol O’Sullivan, Acting Chair of the DICE committee at MIC, said: ‘The symposium featured a variety of speakers and delegates who provided unique perspectives and insights on the crisis and led to a highly engaging discussion on this very complex issue. The symposium challenged everyone in attendance to reflect on their own response to an issue with enormous human, social, cultural and political ramifications.’ 






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