Two things happened on this year’s World Refugee Day. While Sophie Magennis, head of the UNHCR office in Ireland, wrote on the continued relevance of asylum, another mass deportation to Nigeria took place after many direct provision centres were raided at dawn by the GNIB.
Magennis reminded Irish Times readers that worldwide 42 million people ended 2011 as refugees, internally displaced, or seeking asylum, and that humanitarian catastrophes in Afghanistan (the largest producer of refugees), Iraq, Somalia, Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo, continue to produce refugees.
Though the UNHCR has been working with the Irish government (some say too closely), Magennis criticised the inhumane direct provision system and advocated a ‘single procedure’ in the determination of asylum cases. In the current system people seeking asylum in Ireland are first interviewed by the Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner to determine whether they were persecuted on grounds of race, religion, nationality, membership of a social group or political opinion. Only after this procedure ends must applicants raise their fear of returning home where they may be tortured or killed. Magennis and the UNHCR recommend a ‘single procedure’ to determine both persecution and protection, which, she believes, the new version of the Immigration Residence and Protection due before the Dáil, will address. Read more