In this series of recordings UCC students in the Cross Disciplinary Group were interested in refugee issues. produce two hour long prgrammes at Community Radio Youghal, in order to highlight the current humanitarian crisis faced by refugees. Transcript below.
Programme 1 Programme 2
Fiona Ciara Gisella
Audio Length: 00:31:19
Audio Quality: Good
Number of Interviewers: 1
Number of Interviewees: 2
Start of Audio
Interviewer: Welcome back to our program, The Global Hub. We’re here now with Elaine Marta via phone from the Cork Caleigh Refugee Solidarity group. Elaine, I’m hoping you could tell us very briefly what you’ve been working on since you last spoke on this program?
Interviewee 1: Well, we’ve been working on a lot of outreach work. Fundraising and then going over and helping people out with hotel accommodation if needed for, say, a pregnant lady who’s there, children who are unaccompanied, helping them with phones and credit and food even. It’s an outreach organisation. There are so many people that are isolated. There would be an area of the camp that aren’t really seen as much by the general people that are in and out of there.
Interviewer: Perfect. Last summer when the group was first founded, you had a huge outpouring of support from people in Cork and also around Ireland. Have you seen that momentum has dropped off a little and how could we build it up again if it has?
Interviewee 1: Well, it’s definitely dropped. I’ll be honest, it could never has sustained the type of energy that it had. It would have been impossible for people to do – it was amazing. People are still committed to helping. There are still people going over the volunteer all the time; still people doing fundraisers, doing their own thing from home. It’s still there, the will to help is still there. It’s just not as prominent as it was. There are no convoys organised, so there’s no big drive for something. I think for people just to keep their minds and hearts open is the most important thing and keep an eye out for where they see there’s opportunities to help, which would be fundraising or help out with people who have arrived over here, or sending money over to different projects that are running throughout Europe for the refugee crisis.
Interviewer: Okay. Are there any fundraisers upcoming or are there any campaigns that are running currently that people could get involved with now?
Interviewee 1: There’s always something going on. If you go on and look at the different Caleigh Solidarity pages, you’ll see different projects happening. There’s one happening on the 13th of May, it’s art and solidarity I think is the name of the event. A friend of my Liam Horgan who came over with me a few times sketched some lovely paintings of people in the camp. He’s actually auctioning them off. Alda Heevy has organised a fundraising night for using Liam’s art. I’m not sure of the venue but it’s art and solidarity anyway is the name of the event on it’s on Thursday, May the 13th in Dublin.
Interviewer: Perfect. That sounds great. You also mentioned that once we have Serian refugees and refugees from other areas starting to arrive in Ireland, that people can get involved in helping out on the ground here. Would Cork Caleigh Refugee Solidarity be able to put people into contact with refugees who arrived here or could you suggest another point of contact for those who’d like to get involved in that aspect?
Interviewee 1: It’s difficult to be honest with you because it’s the department of justice who are looking after those people. There’s a lot of red tape involved in actually going to see them or seeing what their needs are. You have to go through the official channels. That said, there are 12 families in Thurles where I live and they’ve been there for a year and I met the first of them only two or three days ago. They’re obviously integrated now and they’re in their houses and they’re doing courses and stuff like that. I’ve been so busy I hadn’t had the opportunity to meet with them. I would say keep an eye out again on the group pages. I think the families who were brought to Cranleigh are being relocated to Cork. Somewhere in Cork, maybe in Mallow and maybe in the City. Keep an eye on the pages and see if there are ways to help out there. Again, move more along the lines of asking the questions like: Why aren’t there more? Why aren’t they coming in faster?
Why do we only have a handful of families since we’ve made the pledge and promised to take 4,000? They’re there, it’s not like there’s not a lot of people to pick from. There’s the camp in Jordon, the camp in Lebanon where the refugees have been brought from and there are hundreds of thousands of people there. It should be a fast process. It should be faster than it is at least, anyway. I think those are the questions to be asking and that’s how you could help. Get them over here first. There aren’t enough here for all the volunteers or all the people who have the good will to want to help them. There’s not enough of them here yet. I think we need to be putting more pressure on the government to find out why aren’t they here quicker? Why are they not moving?
Their lives are on hold completely over there. The families, children, they’re not going to school, they’re not getting and education. They’re arriving over here and at 20 years of age having to go into 5th year, which is a fact. There’s a girl in my daughter’s class in fifth year and she’s 20 from Seria. Their lives are literally put on hold for years while they’re waiting to be relocated. We pledged to take 4,000, so take them. Bring them in faster I think is important.
Interviewer: Okay. That’s great. Thank you for your help and advice, Elaine. That’s all we have time for but thank you for joining us. Anyone who’s interested can check out the Cork Caleigh Refugee Solidarity page. Okay, thanks, Elaine. Continuing on, we’re not going to speak to Fiona O’Rourke who is a social science student at UCC and has been participating in a work placement program. Fiona, could you tell us a little bit about the work placement program, please?
Interviewee 2: Well, we’re doing a class with people with disabilities and without from the large community. It’s called Global Citizenship. Human rights and disabilities and rights in general and around the world is what we mainly do.
Interviewer: Okay. What were you doing as part of your work placement?
Interviewee 2: Well, it’s a partnership with a person with disability. You’re on equal grounds with the people. You do the same work, which is very humanising and it gives you a chance to know a person that you have never met before. My partner was Val and she was in a wheelchair. We did activities such as: Live link from India and talking to refugees and doing posters and just a bit of fun.
Interviewer: Perfect. There was a link between the work placement and the refugee crisis.
Interviewee 2: Yes, we did two classes on the refugees and the refugee person who was once in direct provision came in and talked to us and told us her experience. Her name was Noma and she had a very good story, a sad story to tell about how she survived in direct provision.
Interviewer: What did you learn about the direct provision system? For those who are not aware, the direct provision system involved asylum seekers who come to Ireland, will live in a centre where all their needs are provided for food, housing, accommodation, education, but the process tends to be quite long and drawn out. Eight years in some cases, is that right?
Interviewee 2: Yes, her story was a survival story. She wasn’t allowed to cook her own food, which was important. It is important for everyone. Her mental health was impacted by an institution and she just felt trapped. People are supposed to help people from the refugees but we put them in institutes and I feel that is wrong to do. Also, she had a bit of money. Not many people have money from refugees and she did a course. Many people can’t go to university, only people can go to secondary school and that’s it. They’re held up for years.
Interviewer: Life is on hold, as Elaine was saying.
Interviewee 2: Yes, life is on hold. People can’t work, they can’t provide for their families. That’s something Irish people would be very upset if it was done to Irish people themselves.
Interviewer: Was there one aspect of her story or one incident in particular that struck you?
Interviewee 2: Well, the fact that people can’t have contact with the centres itself and they’re blocked off from Irish people. I feel like a lot of people from around the place would love to help out and activities or interaction but they can’t and the government is stopping this from happening.
Interviewer: There isn’t really opportunity for local people to interact with those who are living in the direct provision centre?
Interviewee 2: Yes. Also, the feelings of Noma and disabilities in general, it would be like they’re incarcerated. Many people were in institutions such as my partner Val and she felt empathy and a connectedness to her because she was in an institution for years but now she’s moved into her own house, which is a big deal. A lot of people can’t do that. People just want freedom and it’s a very simple thing to give people but it’s not been given.
Interviewer: Val, the person in the wheelchair that you were working with was able to leave institutional living and live independently.
Interviewee 2: In her own house, yes.
Interviewer: She would stress the importance of that and you said she felt a connectedness with Noma who was living in an institution as well?
Interviewee 2: Yes.
Interviewer: Perfect. She would like to see something like that extended to those living in direct provision as well.
Interviewee 2: Yes, more freedom for people. Interacting with the community, maybe that would be better than putting them into institutes.
Interviewer: Yes, I would agree.
End of Audio
Aaron Vox Pop plus Geraldine with Piaras
Audio Length: 00:42:08
Audio Quality: Good
Number of Interviewers: 1
Number of Interviewees: 1
Start of Audio
Interviewer: Good evening, everybody. You’re very welcome to the Global Hub. I’m Gertrude Cotter and here we are again looking at local and global issues. Today and next week we have a very special series of programs. In a way, my program is going to be taken over by a group of students from the University College Cork who have been working on some programs and some interviews and some research in relation to the current refugee crisis. It’s going to be really interesting. A lot of the voices you’ll hear tonight and next week will be other people and not just myself. Before we go on to that and before we introduce you to the students who are doing tonight’s program, let’s have a listen first to one of the pieces of music chosen by Aaron Coors, who you’ll meet shortly. This piece of music is Goo-goo Dolls and it’s called Better Days by Goo-goo Dolls.
That was Goo-goo Dolls and better days and that piece of music was chosen by Aaron Coors and Aaron is here with me now. Aaron is a student of international relations in University College Cork, a master student having a great time here in Ireland for the year. He has been a fantastic student to work with. Aaron, you have been doing a Vox Pop, so why don’t you tell us a little bit about the Vox Pop and then we can play it.
Interviewee: Yes, thanks, Gertrude. I as a student studying international relations, as you said, and the world and how it works, it’s hard to not study the world and miss the Serian refugee crisis because it’s so infamous and in the international spotlight of something that’s happening to a very unfortunate group of people who are trying to escape a war-torn country. I was just curious to what other people and just in the general public thought about Seria. I think from an intellectual standpoint, it’s always very interesting when you ask what the general public thinks about an issue that is so prevalent and how the game you used to play in primary school maybe, telephone, you know?
When people hear things and someone else hears it from someone else, how if it’s in any way reflective of what’s really happening. The responses I got were yes, people generally know because it’s so prevalent in the news, Seria and the refugee crisis out there. There’s something going on with people leaving Seria and they’re trying to get this in place better. Most people didn’t really have an opinion but I did get several people who did and you’ll hear that in a second.
Interviewer: Okay, do did you find that people didn’t have enough information? While there was an empathy and there was a feeling of sympathy and we’re seeing a lot of people in the media and the awfulness of the situation but I think what you’re saying from your questions is that people didn’t really have enough information or couldn’t really describe what exactly was going on or the root causes? Is that what you’re saying?
Interviewee: Yes, definitely. Again, people just hear little quick bits from the news and often don’t read into it. People have an idea that the crisis of people leaving Seria, that they need help and a lot of people were empathetic. Like you said, they wanted to know how they’d get help. I’ve tried to put together a little bit of a compilation of resources that I think would help the general public who are curious about how they could help the refugees with donations and actual volunteering in time.
Interviewer: Okay. That’s brilliant. Let’s have a listen to your Vox Pop and well done for this piece of work. We’ll have a listen to Aaron Coors Vox Pop now. Where did you do it, Aaron? It was in UCC, wasn’t it?
Interviewee: I did, yes. I just went around the campus one day and just asked any person who was willing to give an opinion on Seria and/or ask a question that they were confused about the crisis or want a clarification or, again, wanted to know where they could volunteer?
Interviewer: Okay. Here is the Vox Pop.
[Vox Pop from 00:07:54 – 00:09:33] Interviewee: Yes, that was a Vox Pop that I did, just asking the general public around University College Cork about what they thought about the Serian refugee crisis and if anything confused them. After listening to some of their questions and engaging with the public about asking them about their own ideas about the crisis, I got the general consensus that people were empathetic, like Gertrude said earlier, and they wanted to help. I’ve put together, again, a compilation of resources that I think will help the general public if they are indeed curious about learning more about the crisis, as well as how they can help the refugee who are currently in camps in Greece. Just to give a little background, because, again, as you heard in the Vox Pop, there is a confusion, like what is the crisis? Why are these refugees here? What’s happening in Seria?
Well, currently in Seria there’s a cease fire that’s been in place since March. It’s calmed things down a bit as far as the violence but the Serian crisis is the long-term idea of peace and having a civil society. It’s still very much uncertain. Going back to 2011, there were many counties in the middle east, Arab countries, which were having what is known as Arab Extreme revolutions, where they were toppling governments. In Seria, there was a president, Bashar Al-Assad administration, who many in Seria disagreed with how they were handling their domestic policies. There were protests and rebellions. What ended up happening since 2011 until the cease fire in March was the country just broke down pretty much completely and there were various rebel factions fighting each other. The Islamic State, the Islamic terrorist group, the Islamic State of the Levant and Iraq.
They came in and basically took control of the eastern part of Seria and the western part of Iraq and filling the vacuum there because of the factions. The U.S. got involved, Russia got involved again until it was last week that Russian president Vladimir Putin decided to pull out of Seria. I think millions, I would say millions of Serians have left Seria. I was reading an article today on an international publication site new source that I think it was two thirds of the Serian Christian population have left Seria, which leaves only about 500 Serian Christians left because of all the violence. That’s what’s going on in Seria. Many religious groups, many religious minorities are facing persecution from Islamic state, for example, which has been be-heading people and persecuting many who don’t fit into their idea of what is good. Many of the Serians because of the more open border policy of Turkey have fled through Turkey and getting to camps in Greece in Lesvos. Many of them are trying to get to Germany now. Unfortunately, for them, the borders in the eastern part of Europe have been closed.
As far as trying to help the refugees, just the average person of the general public, there are many organisations, many NGOs which are government organisations which do non-profit, often humanitarian work that you can find to answer the Vox Pop questions. If anyone who’s listening now would like a chance to help the refugees, for example, save the children would just be essential items such as: Diapers, hygiene kits and food. The Red Cross in Europe is providing emergency health services at train stations. Migrate offshore aid station is giving dedicated prevention to stop migrate deaths at sea. These are all organisations that need monitory donations which you can make securely online on their websites. As far as if you’re a person who’s more a hands-on, more kinaesthetic in your approach to helping others, there are organisations like Glasgow Solidarity with Caleigh migrants, where someone named Diane and Bob are driving to Caleigh with supplies.
There’s Side by Side, which is a family is Thurrock joining to help with basic humanitarian aid and the camps. There are lots of different ways that doctors of the world are providing care for vulnerable people in the camps. There are lots of different organisations that you can not only donate to but also volunteer. You can go even for the summer to Lesvos in Greece and hand out food or pass out books. One of the issues in the refugee camps is idleness and helping them pass time. There are lots of different things you can do.
Interviewer: Okay. Well done, Aaron. I suppose here in Cork as well, more locally, a lot of people will be aware of first of all, the Caleigh Solidarity group who we’ll be speaking to, actually, later on in the program. This group, as you know, because we featured them a few times on this program have done fantastic work in mobilising people all over the country, in fact. There was an incredible amount of humanitarian aid went out just from purely voluntary activities. I think it’s very important that we don’t lose that momentum and that we remember that people will be coming here again and hopefully in larger numbers and that we need to respond here in Ireland as well. One of the groups you can contact is that group and you can look for them. We’ll talk to them later on and see what they’re doing at the moment. There’s an organisation in University College Cork, well, not an organisation but a group of people called Friends of Refugees.
Anybody who’s s student or is staff in UCC could contact them. They have a Facebook page: Friends of Refugees, UCC Friends of Refugees. Again, that’s another contact point. Also, obviously, the ongoing organisations at work with migrants in Ireland in general, be it NASK in Cork or the Irish refugee counsel or the Immigrant Counsel or Ireland or the Migrant Rights Centre of Ireland. As Aaron said, the Red Cross has a big responsibly in Ireland as well. Anybody who does want to help out, obviously, there’s plenty. I’m sure at a local level here, there are people who would like to get together and make a contribution. Those kinds of contributions can be many kinds of contributions. It can be just befriending people, it can be fundraising, it can be providing English language. There’s such a range of things that people can help with. There’s just plenty of information out there and plenty of support required. That was great, Aaron. Thanks very much for that. I think what we’ll do now is we’ll just take another piece of music.
[00:17:32] End of Audio