Since 2015, there has been a dramatic rise in the number of people facing forced
displacement. By the end of 2016, over 65.6 million people fled their homes
worldwide, 22.5 million of whom were refugees with 40.3 million internally
displaced. Families are being torn apart and children remain the most affected, making
up 50% of those fleeing persecution and violence.2 Faced with extremely poor living
conditions and with no prospect of being able to return home in the short to medium
term, people are forced to move on to try and find safety. In 2016, over 1.2 million
people submitted an asylum claim in the EU. The levels of global forced displacement are
reaching levels unseen since World War II. It is one of the major challenges of our times.

Given the sheer scale of people on the move and in need of protection, the current status
quo response is not sustainable. Without alternatives, even the strictest border control
efforts will not stop people seeking safety – it will only make journeys more dangerous
and deadly. EU Member States, including Ireland, must do more to ensure that durable
solutions are found as people’s lives hang in the balance. It is critical that Ireland plays
a central role in showing solidarity with countries hosting the majority of the world’s
refugee and displaced populations.

In response to the global humanitarian crisis, people from all around Ireland pledged
support and solidarity with those fleeing persecution and conflict. This inspiring response
can now be built on with the recent announcement from the Government to develop a
Community Sponsorship Programme for refugees. This is a very welcome initiative as
it will not only assist refugees, but also strengthen, deepen and enrich our communities.

This is a briefing paper from the Irish Refugee and Migrant Coalition. The Coalition was
founded in August 2015, and is comprised of 23 leading Irish organisations that seek to
advance the rights and dignity of people on the move and those in need of international
protection. This paper does not provide a comprehensive overview of all immigration
and asylum developments since January 2016. Rather, it sets out some of the major
changes from an International, European and Irish perspective and outlines a range of
recommendations for the Irish government in order to ensure that Ireland responds
responsibly and displays solidarity with the regions and persons most affected by on-going
conflicts and mass displacement.

Download paper