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Position Paper

Ireland Refugees within EU borders.

As the barrel of gunpowder was set on fire in the Arab World and many people flee from their country in search for a better future, the European Union faces the problem of refugees. Policies need to be implemented in order to seek an optimal solution to the problem, whether we want to keep the refugees, or on the contrary, we won't accept their staying in our lands. In this essay, several vital questions are to be answered, and many arguments will show that Ireland has a big word to say for this issue. Ireland, long subject to immigration and emigration, is currently coming to terms with the challenges of cultural negotiation posed by the new flows of immigration within Europe. In the first three years of the 1990's only 160 people applied to the Irish authorities for asylum. In 2002 the average was over 1,000 people per month. For several years asylum seekers who had a child born in Ireland could then apply for residency.1 In 2004, a contentious constitutional amendment redefined Irish citizenship and the rules surrounding it. Since then the number of asylum applications has dropped dramatically. The EU has expanded to include most of East Europe, so people who formerly might have been classified as refugees are now automatically entitled to reside in Ireland. Since Ireland is an island nation with procedures such as checking documentation before potential refugees get on airplanes or ferries, they have cut refugee numbers tremendously.

As well, immigration officials at the ports of entry and airports have been given greatly increased powers to prevent people without full documentation from entering the country. Thousands are refused admittance annually. Most of Ireland's asylum seekers come from Nigeria or Romania. Those two nationalities accounted for almost half of all applications in 1999. Per capita, Ireland is one of the most popular destinations in Europe for refugees. All refugees arriving at the reception centres are offered basic health screening and there is a very high take-up rate for this. A multi-disciplinary team of psychologists is available to assess any psychiatric or mental health difficulties asylum seekers might be experiencing and doctors and public health nurses are on hand throughout the day. There is now a refugee population in Ireland running into tens of thousands of people, made up of individuals from dozens of different countries. Even within these nationalities there are many different cultures represented, as minorities are the most likely to flee from an oppressive state. For this reason, Ireland has received a significant community of Roma gypsies and Ogoni people from Nigeria. The refugees who require treatment, receive it quickly and very few have transpired to be carrying any form of infectious or transmittable disease. However, as a result of experiences in their home countries, many of those who come to Ireland arrive with unresolved psychological problems. Others develop low level psychological difficulties after their arrival. Once these refugees become residents of Ireland, some experience radical discrimination, but there isnt a lot that can be done about this, however when it comes to employment or provision of services, there is an Equality Tribunal which handles complaints. Article 14( 1) of the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights states: "Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution." , so saving refugees is another step to norture and to prove the importance of the Human Rights, to show once more that the lives and the qualty of life of both refugees and inhabitants, can co-exist in a safe enviroment.