Fortress Europe
A Policy of Exclusion

Europe Does Not Abide By The Refugee Convention

The United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) states that

"Governments are increasingly slamming the door in the faces of those seeking asylum,regarding them as political, social or economic threats...... The five million people who requested asylum in Western Europe, North America and Australasia over the past decade have faced an array of different measures intended to prevent or deter people from seeking refuge"
(UNHCR,The State of the World`s Refugees: A Humanitarian Agenda, 1997 New York).

The same report criticises governments for narrowing the definition of refugee in order to deny refuge to the majority who seek it. To qualify as a refugee in the EU asylum seekers must be able to prove that they face persecution by the State in their home countries. Under this definition people whose lives are thteatened by non-state factions would not qualify as refugees (eg. Somalia, Algeria). Instead they would be deemed illegal immigrants and deported.

The Dublin Convention: A Denial of Refuge

The Dublin Convention is a cornerstone of Fortress Europe. This Convention introduced the `Safe Third Country` rule which enables EU countries to deport asylum seekers to other countries (both inside and outside the EU ) through which they passed. The result is that asylum seekers are pushed from country to country until they are deported back to the country they fled from in the first place.

As Ireland is an island it is virtually impossible to seek asylum here without first passing through another EU state. Deportations from Ireland are usually presented as mere insistence by the Irish Government that refugees apply for asylum in the first EU country they entered. The reality is that most asylum seekers deported from Ireland under the Dublin Convention are placed in detention centres in other EU countries prior to their expulsion from Europe.

Rehumanising Refugees

The net result of the policies adopted by the EU (including Ireland) has been to dehumanise refugees. The hype and sensationalism surrounding refugees no longer sees the humanity of those fleeing their homeland, but prefers to see them as numbers , or worse, as a natural disaster, a ` flood`. Given Ireland`s long history as a net exporter of economic migrants it is the height of hypocrisy to dehumanise refugees in order to deny refuge to those fleeing poverty, persecution or conflict. Asylum seekers are human beings in need of our help, not a tide of threatening invaders.