News & Events


Ireland must take immediate action to support Refugees in Calais

Issued on October 13, 2016 at 12:28 PM

camp 5 - Living conditions in the camp in Calais (pic Graham Seeley)
Living conditions in the camp in Calais (pic Graham Seeley)

Congress Global Solidarity Committee Calls on Ireland to take immediate action to support Refugees in Calais


The Irish Congress of Trade Unions Global Solidarity Committee is gravely concerned with the French government’s proposed demolition this weekend of the refugee camp, known as The Jungle, in Calais. The risk to the safety of the residents, including over 1,000 unaccompanied children, is at an all-time high. 

The ICTU Global Solidarity Committee believes the Irish Government has, to date, failed in its undertaking that Ireland would play an active role in Europe's response to what is now termed its refugee crisis. Among its excuses is that its commitment to take families and unaccompanied children makes the process complex. Focusing on these groups is important, particularly the protection of unaccompanied children. This grouping, along with women traveling alone and with small children, represents a specific humanitarian need amongst refugee communities in Europe. 

The UNHCR estimates there are 70,000 unaccompanied children across Europe, over 10,000 of whom have been reported missing. The planned demolition of the camp in Calais will exacerbate this stark reality. In spite of the welcome, though overdue, comments of the British government about taking children from Calais, the polarized political environment in the UK means it cannot be certain that it will meet its responsibility in full. It remains the case that next weekend 10,000 refugees will be forcibly removed from the Calais camp and dispersed to locations all over France. with little infrastructure in place to respond to the specific needs of vulnerable women and children. 

In the immediacy of the upcoming demolition, however, an assumption of shared responsibility in receiving unaccompanied children is an important step towards more actively supporting those who need our solidarity-and welcome. 

Mags O’ Brien, Chair of ICTU’s Global Solidarity Committee said “We are calling on the Taoiseach and Minister for Foreign Affairs to make an immediate appeal to the French Government to delay the demolition in Calais. Furthermore, we are calling on Ireland to assist France in assuming responsibility by offering to take 200 of the unaccompanied children from Calais, who, though resilient, face added vulnerability and potential exploitation.” 

“The call on the Irish government to prioritise relocation of unaccompanied minors from Calais is part of a wider call for a more efficient, transparent and humane response over-all. The injustice faced by those currently in the forced limbo of the Direct Provision system, the lack of a safe or just means of passage for those seeking asylum and the barriers faced by those applying for family reunification are also ongoing causes for deep concern- and action.”

(Report from recent delegation visit to Calais available here )