Wednesday, 25 May 2016 21:50

EAI busts myths on refugees

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EAI Executuve Director, Nick Park, challenges Christians to engage in loving their refugee neighbours.

 

At a recent seminar, jointly hosted with Tearfund Ireland, and entitled "Loving the Refugee", Nick shattered some come myths concerning refugees that have taken hold in society.

The myths in question were:

MYTH 1

“Ireland is being expected to take more than its fair share of asylum seekers and migrants”

As a percentage of our population, Ireland ranks 29th out of 45 European countries in receiving asylum seekers and refugees.  Asylum seekers comprise 0.01% of the Irish population (that is 1 out of every 10,000 people is an asylum seeker).

MYTH 2

“We are a small country, and haven’t room to accommodate so many new arrivals”

Ireland used to have a population of over 8 million, in contrast to the Republic’s current population of 4.5 million.  We have a population density of 65 people per square km (compared to the UK’s population density of 260 people per square km).

MYTH 3

“Asylum seekers and refugees put too much strain on a fragile economy”

Research in developed countries consistently reveals that refugees and asylum seekers either affect economies positively or neutrally.  Refugees are more likely to start new businesses than native-born residents.

MYTH 4

“Refugees and asylum seekers are responsible for an increasing crime wave in Ireland”

There is no statistical evidence that refugees or asylum seekers in Ireland are more likely to commit crime than the rest of the population.

MYTH 5

“Refugees are getting priority in housing, social welfare benefits, and free cars, phones and baby buggies - none of which are given to Irish people.”

 

No refugee or asylum seeker gets a car or phone from the State. Ireland has a scheme that gives grants to low-income families to buy a pram or baby buggy - and that scheme is equally available to all residents of the State. When it comes to housing or social welfare benefits, refugees have to go through the same processes and meet the same criteria as anyone else. Asylum seekers (those still awaiting permission to stay in the country) are placed in accommodation centres with very basic facilities and receive €19.10 per week (less than half of what asylum seekers receive in the UK).

MYTH 6

“Immigrants come here to sponge off the State and are unwilling to work”

Statistically, Irish nationals are slightly more likely to claim unemployment benefits (jobseekers benefit) than are non-nationals.

MYTH 7

“Why are we expected to do so much to help Syrian refugees when Muslim countries are doing nothing to help them?”

Turkey has received 2 million Syrian refugees. In terms of percentage of their population, that would be the equivalent of Ireland receiving 250,000. (We have actually agreed to take in 4,000).

Lebanon has received 1.2 million - that is a staggering number, actually comprising over 25% of Lebanon's total population. 

Jordan, with a total population of 6 million people, has received 600,000 refugees. They have also, since 2011, spent $6.6 billion caring for Syrian refugees. That amounts, each year, to spending 30% of their entire GDP on care of refugees. To put that figure in perspective, the most generous 'Christian' country in the world is Sweden, giving 1% of GDP in overseas aid. The US gives 0.19% of GDP.  Ireland gives 0.7% of GDP.

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Footnote: The seminar proved to be a very profitable exercise and EAI and Tearfund now plan to mobilise the passion and interest shown at the event by further resourcing of churches to increase their outreach to refugees. Details will follow in due course.

 

Read 20382 times Last modified on Sunday, 18 September 2016 15:27