Accepting refugees and unaccompanied minors; the number of persons to date that have been accepted here under the various resettlement and relocation programmes
To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality the commitments the government has made in terms of accepting refugees and unaccompanied minors here; the number of persons to date that have been accepted here under the various resettlement and relocation programmes, in tabular form; the number of unaccompanied minors that have arrived here; and if she will make a statement on the matter.
- Darragh O'Brien
Minister of State at the Department of Justice and Equality (David Stanton)
As the Deputy will be aware, the Irish Refugee Protection Programme (IRPP) was established by Government Decision on 10 September 2015 as a direct response to the humanitarian crisis that developed in Southern Europe as a consequence of mass migration from areas of conflict in the Middle East and Africa. Under this programme, the Government has pledged to accept a total of 4,000 persons into the State, 2,622 through the EU relocation mechanism established by two EU Council Decisions in 2015 to assist Italy and Greece, and 1,040 (519 by the end of 2016 and the remainder in 2017) under the UNHCR-led refugee resettlement programme currently focussed on resettling Syrian refugees from Lebanon.
In a further gesture of humanitarian assistance towards the most vulnerable caught up in the migration crisis and following a debate in the Dáil, the Government also committed to taking up to 200 unaccompanied minors (UAMs) from France who were previously resident in the migrant camp at Calais. Twenty-one UAMs have thus far arrived in Ireland under this initiative and are in the care of Tusla. These initiatives therefore leave just a small residual balance to be allocated from the Government decision to take 4,000 persons.
In summary, to the end of March 2017, the numbers of persons that have arrived under both the programme refugee resettlement strand and the relocated asylum seeker strands of the programme are set out below in Table 1 and Table 2 respectively:
Table 1: Programme Refugees
Total People Adults Minors Age 0-4 Age 5-12 Age 13-17
627 310 362 111 197 54
Table 2: Relocated Asylum Seekers
Total People Adults Minors Age 0-4 Age 5-12 Age 13-17
380 219 161 59 76 26
Further numbers will of course arrive under the relocation programme over the coming months. Full details on the two primary strands of the programme are set out below for the information of the Deputy.
Resettlement strand of the programme
Taking account of the situation in the Middle East, and the plight of the refugees, the Tánaiste announced that Ireland would accept 520 persons for resettlement over an 18-month period to the end of 2017. This was almost double the figure proposed for Ireland by the European Commission and was delivered a year ahead of the Commission deadline.
In addition, the Government recently announced that it is extending the resettlement programme to take in a further 520 refugees from Lebanon in 2017, most of whom are of Syrian origin. 260 refugees have already been selected during a selection mission to Lebanon in October 2016. 152 have arrived with remaining due in the coming weeks. Most of these refugees are also Syrian. A further selection mission to Lebanon is taking place to select the remaining refugees due to come to Ireland in 2017 under the resettlement programme.
Relocation strand of the programme
Despite initial delays outside of Ireland's control in respect of the operation of the 'hotspots' on the ground in Greece, Ireland has to-date taken in a total of 380 people from Greece under relocation. A monthly schedule has been agreed with the Greek authorities which will sustain the pace of intakes throughout 2017 at the levels required to allow Ireland to meets its commitments to Greece within the time frame envisaged by the Programme.
Ireland has agreed to take up to 20 UAMs under the IRPP. Fundamentally, Ireland's capacity to take UAMs is determined by Tusla, the child and family agency. 6 UAMs (by the Irish definition) have arrived in Ireland from Greece under the programme. However, relatively few UAMs appear to be available within the cohort eligible for relocation and efforts continue to seek further transfers within this cohort. All UAMs that have arrived to-date are in the care of Tusla.
As regards Italy, the relocation mechanism from Italy has yet to commence for many countries, including Ireland, due to issues with the Italian authorities surrounding the security assessment of migrants assigned to other Member States. Intensive efforts are ongoing to resolve this, both bilaterally with Italian counterparts at official, diplomatic and Ministerial level, and at EU level, including through the European Commission and it is hoped that a resolution can be found in the coming weeks.
The total target for relocation EU-wide in the two Council Decisions for relocation also includes an allocated portion which in the case of Ireland amounts to 910 persons. These numbers have not yet been allocated as between Greece and Italy. It is understood that the European Commission are examining allocating this "unassigned" portion and if they do Ireland will immediately work towards relocating them.
Table 3 below sets out the position regarding the assignment of the 4,000.
Table 3: Table of Total Numbers under Government Decision
Relocation Strand Numbers
Council Decision 2015/1523 600
Council Decision 2015/1601 2,022
Total Relocation 2,622
Government Decision 09/06/15 520
Government Decision 06/07/16 260
Government Decision 29/11/16 260
Total Resettlement 1,040
Total Unaccompanied Minors Calais (Government Decision 10/11/16) 200 (up to)
Mechanism as yet undecided 138
Grand Total 4000