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Bairbre de Brún joins campaign to shut down migrant detention centres

21 April, 2006

Sinn Féin MEP Bairbre de Brún has backed calls by the European United Left/Nordic Green Left group in the European Parliament for the closure of temporary holding centres for migrants across the EU. The campaign "NO FORTRESS EUROPE" can be found at

Ms de Brún said the campaign aimed to highlight 'the Fortress Europe' approach to migrants which puts the lives of many potential migrants at risk and sees thousands of third country nationals housed in squalid 'temporary' holding centres while their applications are being processed.

Speaking from Brussels Ms de Brún said:

"I want to call upon every member of the European Parliament to sign the petition opposing a Fortress Europe approach to migration issues. There can be no excuse for a Fortress Europe which seeks to seal borders shut to those from outside the EU. This repressive approach is being accelerated by using the criteria of security rather than human rights.

"In June 2005 I travelled to Lampedusa, Italy and had the opportunity to participate in an MEPs delegation to a detention centre, where up to 1,000 migrants can be detained at any one time, even though the Italian authorities confirmed that the centre's capacity is 186 people. I was shocked by the terrible conditions in which migrants were held. The living and sleeping conditions were atrocious, overcrowding was a major problem and medical facilities did not appear to go beyond the very basic.

"The holding centre at Lampedusa, and other similar camps in Malta, Mellila and elsewhere are tangible examples of the construction of a Fortress Europe which all who cherish the protection of human rights must oppose. In the twenty-five Member States, there are 178 holding centres, while more have been built in candidate or neighbouring countries.

"We must adopt a more humane approach, based on international human rights norms. We must also deal with the underlying causes of conflict, war and poverty that drive many to seek refuge within the borders of the EU or to come here seeking a better life. The European Union must lead by example on the protection and promotion of human, civil and political rights." ENDS

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