Irish Bishops urge government to assist refugees from Afghanistan

The Catholic Bishops of Ireland are calling on the Irish government to do more for forcibly displaced people fleeing from Afghanistan, calling it an opportunity to showcase Ireland’s commitment to protecting human rights.

By Lisa Zengarini

Ireland has committed to accept 150 refugees fleeing from the Talliban in Afghanistan under the Irish Refugee Protection Programme. Addressing the emergency Security Council meeting on Afghanistan, the Irish Ambassador to the UN has also appealed for safe and reliable humanitarian access for its people.

While welcoming the move, Bishop Alan McGuckian, Chair of the Council for Justice and Peace of the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference, has urged that the bureaucratic process be accelerated and that the acceptance of additional refugees in Ireland should be considered as a policy priority.

Wealthier nations should do more for refugees 

“Ireland, as one of the wealthier nations of the world must do more for forcibly displaced people in terms of welcome and integration through State and community supports,” the Bishop said on Wednesday. “Our hearts are deeply moved by the panicked scenes of people fleeing, but it should not take such scenes and circumstances to force governments to act.”

82.4m forcibly displaced people worldwide

According to the UNHCR, at the end of 2020 there were 82.4m forcibly displaced people worldwide. However, “85% of these are being looked after in the least wealthy nations, with only 15% being accommodated in the wealthier countries of the world, including Ireland,” Bishop McGuckian noted.

According to the Irish Justice and Peace Chairman, “this unfolding crisis presents Ireland with another opportunity to demonstrate our commitment to the protection of human rights, including access to education for all, and to welcome the stranger among us.” 

Welcome, protect, promote and integrate refugees 

“In the interest of justice and peace, refugees should be welcomed and integrated in our communities,” he further emphasized, recalling Pope Francis’ call to welcome, protect, promote and integrate them. 

“The values of our Irish faith tradition teach us that outreach, encounter and authentic dialogue can bring the true peace that the world needs at this time.”

Bishop McGuckian concluded by urging people “to pray for the safe protection of the people of Afghanistan and other war-torn regions of the world.”