Following further delays to the resettlement of children to Ireland from the Moria refugee camp in Greece, the Bishop of Ferns is calling on the government to act as quickly and decisively as possible to bring these children to safety and shelter.
Bishop Denis Brennan, chair of the Irish Bishops’ Council for Immigrants, expressed his “deep sadness” at recent reports that plans to resettle children seeking refuge from the Moria camp in Greece, to Ireland, which was originally scheduled for September 2020 and again last month, have been further delayed.
“Those forced to migrate have already experienced immense hardship to reach camps like the one in Moria,” he said.
“Following the devastating fire last September, which exacerbated the already cramped, unhygienic, and inhumane conditions in the camp, the commitment made by the Government to relocate 28 children from the Moria camp to Ireland was, in the circumstances, good news.
“However, it also represented the bare minimum support and refuge that we should be offering, particularly to unaccompanied children who have suffered so much trauma in even their earliest years,” he added.
Bishop Brennan also strongly criticised the fact that this had not yet happened after seven months, branding the lack of progress “appalling”.
“For anyone, and especially for a child on their own, another day, another month living in fear in dire conditions in a refugee camp is another day of suffering and trauma that no one should have to endure,” he said.
“We know too how vulnerable unaccompanied minors are to the traps of those who deal in despicable acts like human trafficking. On such an issue we cannot act swiftly enough.
“I call on Government to act as quickly and decisively as possible in this case to bring these children to safety and shelter here in Ireland and to look at any way in which we can seek to accommodate more than a mere 28 unaccompanied minors.
“In our own country, where so many have emigrated seeking welcome on other shores, let us be generous in responding when we are asked to do the same for others.”
Picture: A displaced child sits near destroyed shelters following a fire at the Moria refugee camp on the Greek island of Lesbos on 9th September 2020. The camp, which was mostly destroyed, was home to at least 12,000 people, six times its maximum capacity of just over 2,000 asylum-seekers. (CNS photo/Alkis Konstantinidis, Reuters).