Western reaction to evictions from Ukraine shows refugees our failures, President says


The handling of refugees from Ukraine has shown the previous failure of migration and asylum policy, said President Michael D. Higgins.

The president said refugees from Iraq, Afghanistan and many African conflicts have often been poorly received as they are treated legalistically and as a potential security threat.

“It actually became an opportunity for rejection,” he said.

President Higgins made his remarks yesterday at the European Union Agency for Asylum during his state visit to Malta.

He told an audience of officials, diplomats and students from the Mediterranean Academy of Diplomatic Studies that the agency’s work in monitoring European migration practices is vital.

He had previously heard from Mark Camilleri, the agency’s head of government department, that 2.7 million Ukrainians had applied to stay in EU countries under temporary protection arrangements.

Mr Camilleri underlined the fact that the EU had never invoked the agreement but had “gathered dust” since its inception in 2001.

President Higgins later revisited this point in comments.

“The question has to be asked: How have we dealt with refugee arrivals so far? The answer, of course, is: not very well,” he said.

However, he said the response to the Ukrainian refugees was not perfect either and that the establishment of the temporary shelter was still “just a baseline”.

“It is left to individual countries to interpret their compliance.”

President Higgins said migration would become an even bigger problem because of climate change – an issue he feared would be overlooked because of the other crises that required attention.

“While it is inevitable that Ukraine hangs above it all, we must not divert our attention from events related to climate change or global hunger, which are being inflicted on people in illegal and immoral ways,” Higgins said.

“As we speak, there is a hunger crisis in Afghanistan, a crisis is looming in Somalia. We need to find ways to deal with all of this.”

President Higgins also returned to criticism he leveled last week at Elon Musk’s proposed takeover of Twitter.

He said the concentration of ownership was “dangerous”.

“Should the question of standards, should the question of diversity, should the question of what is threatening and what be pro-democracy be left to people who are just lone figures?” he asked.

“I think concentration of ownership without proper accountability and transparency is unhealthy
for democracy.” Western reaction to evictions from Ukraine shows refugees our failures, President says

Fry Electronics Team

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