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Minister needs to look at reality on ground in Afghanistan when dealing with Hunger Strikers

18 May, 2006

Sinn Féin TD, Aengus Ó Snodaigh has said that the series of devastating gun and bomb attacks in Afghanistan last night, which left more than sixty civilians, policemen, soldiers and rebels' dead, gave lie to the Minister for Justices' claims that the country was only suffering some "disturbances". Rejecting the Ministers claims which were made on Monday last Deputy Ó Snodaigh said he needs to "take his head out of the sand and take note of the reality on the ground".

Deputy Ó Snodaigh said, "In rejecting the protesters at St Patricks Cathedral's demand for asylum the Minister last Monday claimed that Afghanistan was only suffering from what he called "disturbances" and so by extension dismissed off-hand the notion of any threat to the life or safety of the men protesting should they be returned.

"However, the reality on the ground in Afghanistan is much different. Only last night over 60 civilians, policemen, soldiers and rebels were killed in a number of engagements between opposing forces. These attacks happened in a number of different areas of the country. The Minister needs to take his head out of the sand and take note of the reality on the ground when dealing with the Hunger Strikers at St Patricks Cathedral.

"The mens cases need to be reviewed to take fully in to account what is happening in Afghanistan at the moment. If there is any threat to their safety or lives then they should not be sent back to Afghanistan regardless of whether they fall into the strict Convention definition of a refugee or not.

"In light of last nights attacks I call on the Minister to declare Afghanistan an unsafe destination, as the Ministers for Foreign Affairs and Defence have done by sending peacekeeping forces there. The Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform should also declare that nobody who fails his draconian asylum process will be returned to a war zone or an unsafe country. I doubt if Afghanistan even makes the dubious EU white list of safe countries. The Minister should meet the men. They are in his constituency, their case should be listened to and they should be granted the right to remain until, at the very least, the ongoing war in Afghanistan ends." ENDS

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