Approximately 800,000 people have crossed borders into
Europe this year. Some have fled conflict and persecution
and are seeking asylum; others are escaping extreme
poverty and are in search of a better life. The majority have
come from Syria, Somalia, Eritrea, Afghanistan and Iraq,
while a smaller number have travelled from Sudan, Nigeria,
Pakistan and other countries. Since the beginning of 2015, a
staggering 3,400 people have died or gone missing along the
treacherous routes across the sea to Greece, Italy and Turkey,
or overland through the western Balkans. Regardless of the
context from which these people have fled, they share an
experience of desperation so great that they are willing to risk
their lives.

As some European countries tighten border controls or
close borders completely, it is becoming increasingly difficult
for people to identify safe routes and secure options for
migration and settlement. Political leadership is vital now
in the fight against discrimination, exclusion, racism and
Islamophobia. Upholding human rights and humanitarian
values, along with our collective international obligations for
people seeking protection, is critical at this time.

This briefing paper provides a background to the refugee and
migration crisis. It sets out the international, European and
Irish context and outlines a range of recommendations for
the Irish government and EU leaders. The recommendations
address three key areas, (A) opening up legal channels
for migration, including reducing the barriers for family
reunification with a particular focus on vulnerability, (B)
developing community and participative approaches to
reception conditions and long-term integration of asylum
seekers and programme refugees, and (C) upholding
Ireland’s commitments to human rights, humanitarian aid and
addressing the root causes of conflict and inequality.

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