The Mary Robinson Centre hosted its first workshop for the academic programme on the 28th of November. This workshop focussed on the legal, humanitarian and community responses to the refugee and migrant crisis, with a discussion about the implications for Ireland and the Direct Provision system.
Over 60 million people have been displaced globally through conflict and natural disaster, and 2015 has seen higher numbers of migrants and refugees on the move than at any time since WWII, with Europe as the focus of much attention. Conflict in the Middle East and North Africa has resulted in dramatic increases in those seeking refuge in Europe, while funding cuts to search and rescue operations have led to many more drownings in the Mediterranean.
An effective official EU response to the crisis has been slow, but the tide is turning, with greater public awareness of the tragedy. Germany and Austria now show stronger leadership, community groups all over Europe have banded together to bring supplies to Calais and Ireland has pledged to welcome more refugees under the European relocation scheme.
Speakers at the workshop included:
Deirdre Campbell - a humanitarian and development practitioner with over 10 years of experience on Gender Based Violence. Deirdre worked in international humanitarian response in both Angola and Sudan and has 7 years’ experience in rape crisis and domestic violence support services in the UK and Ireland. Deirdre has been Coordinator of the Irish Consortium on Gender Based Violence since 2013.
Stephen Ng'ang'a - has been involved with the fight for justice and equality for over 20 years, both in Ireland and in Kenya. Stephen was a member of the Working Group set-up by the government to look into the protection process in Ireland. Part of the Group's remit was to examine the issues around Direct Provision services in Ireland. He will be speaking about the experience of migrants in Ireland.
Dr Ciara Smyth - a lecturer in the School of Law at the National University of Ireland, Galway, where she teaches Public International Law, International Human Rights and Immigration Law. Ciara has worked for a number of non-governmental and intergovernmental organisations in Ireland and abroad, including the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. Ciara was appointed by the Minister for Justice and Equality to the Working Group on the Protection Process, which made recommendations to government about how the Irish protection process can be improved.
The women whose stories form part of the Migrant Women: Shared Experiences Exhibition also joined the workshop for an interactive discussion on life in Ireland today for recent migrants.