FIRSTWEDS (PART3): Criminalisation of Humanitarians on the European Borders

FIRSTWEDS (PART3): Criminalisation of Humanitarians on the European Borders

Actions and Detail Panel


Date and time

Join us at the 'Solidarity in Crisis' #FirstWeds session on Wednesday, 1 June at 7PM on Zoom.

About this event

#FirstWeds Spring Series: Conflict & Migration Through the Lens of Solidarity

Our #FirstWeds Spring Series holds in mind Ukrainians and people of other countries ridden by war and conflict, who have been forced to leave their homes and cross borders in search of safety.

What are some practical ways to extend support and solidarity from Ireland? And, as we extend this support and solidarity, how can we grow our understanding of the geopolitical contexts within which such calamitous events unfold? Moreover, how can we, from here in Europe, ensure a move beyond fortressed border policies and uphold our welcome to all people in need of refuge?

Over 3 monthly events, we invite you to join us as we explore these questions and more. In the company of panellists from Europe’s East and beyond we want to deepen our understanding of the drivers of the conflict and migration we are witnessing, and, challenge the dualities of attitudes towards refugees. We also aim (with some urgency) to consider the many ways we can be in solidarity with communities seeking refuge from war, violence and oppression in 2022, and with those supporting them on this dangerous journey.

SESSION 3: Criminalisation of Humanitarians on the European Borders

In June, at our last session of the series, we will speak to a panel of migrant solidarity responders whose humanitarian work on European borders is increasingly threatened by false accusations, arrests and criminal charges.

Drawing on the recent prosecution of search and rescue volunteers Seán Binder, Sarah Mardini, and Nassos Karakitsos (Human Rights Watch has described their prosecution by the Greek authorities as the criminalisation of saving lives), we will take a closer look at a distressing pattern of attacks across the European Union on humanitarian efforts to help migrants and refugees.


Aideen Elliott is Oxfam’s Refugee and Migration Policy and Advocacy Coordinator. Aideen has been active in solidarity movements in Ireland, Morocco, the UK and Greece. Aideen completed her PhD on EU migration and asylum policy making following anthropological fieldwork amongst policy makers in Brussels. Aideen has published on the evolution of Ireland’s refugee and migration policy in an EU context and was a research associate at l’Université libre de Bruxelles (ULB-LAMC) and an Irish Research Council Government of Ireland Scholar. 

Caoimhe Butterly is an educator, therapist, human rights activist and filmmaker. She has worked with refugee and undocumented communities for over 20 years in Lebanon, Palestine, Iraq, Syria, Mexico, Haiti, Guatemala, France, Greece, Ireland and recently Ukraine. She is involved with trauma and resilience-informed psycho-social projects, with specific emphasis on integrative, context-specific resources for humanitarian responders and Search and Rescue personnel in the Central Mediterranean.

Mariusz Koltun is a Polish migrant and activist based in Scotland. Since 2017 he has been active on Europe’s external borders, mostly as an independent volunteer/activist. He also cooperates with small NGOs across Europe, including Chios Eastern Shore Response Team (CESRT) where he helped people landing on the beaches in dinghy boats, Action For Education (as an official advisor) and Assist (legal aid organisation). Most of the time he works with refugees in Greek Islands and Poland, but also in Bosnia and most recently Eastern Ukraine. He believes that every person has a right to choose where they live and build their lives, just like he could when he moved to the UK.

Mariusz was recently arrested while providing humanitarian aid to refugees in the Polish region of Podlasie (close to the Belarusian border).

This session will be moderated by Patrick Marren of the Maynooth University Department of International Development.

You can find out more about the series, previous April and May events, and register for the upcoming session in June here.

We hope to see you there.

Watch this space as we announce our June panellists!

Share with friends

Save This Event

Event Saved