Number of persons, including unaccompanied minors, that have been accepted here under the resettlement and relocation programmes
To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality the number of persons, including unaccompanied minors, that have been accepted here under the resettlement and relocation programmes, in tabular form; 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. A breakdown of how this 4,000 will be taken in across the various mechanisms through which the programme is being delivered can be found in Table 1 below.
Table 1: Table of Total Numbers under Government Decision on the IRPP
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
*Of the total of 2,022 under Council Decision 2015/1601 - 910 have yet to be assigned to either Italy or Greece by the EU Commission.
Arrivals to date
As of the 15 May 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 2 and Table 3 respectively:
Table 2: Resettlement Programme Refugees
Total People Adults Minors Age 0-4 Age 5-12 Age 13-17
779 362 417 120 230 67
Table 3: Relocated Asylum Seekers
Total People Adults Minors Age 0-4 Age 5-12 Age 13-17
459 274 185 70 82 33
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.
Of the 1,259 people who have arrived thus far under the IRPP (including unaccompanied minors), a total of 543 persons are now living in the community in various locations nationwide. It is expected that in the region of another 100 people will be housed within the community by the end of June 2017. IRPP officials are working closely with local authorities across the State and the Irish Red Cross to secure appropriate accommodation for those currently in emergency accommodation and all future arrivals.
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 announced last year that it was extending the resettlement programme to take in a further two groups of 260 refugees (520 in total) from Lebanon in 2017 , most of whom are expected to be of Syrian origin. The first group of 260 have already arrived following a selection mission last October and a further mission to Beirut in late March/early April this year selected sufficient numbers to ensure the overall total of 1,040 is reached by the end of 2017.
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 459 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 initial commitments to Greece within the time frame envisaged by the Programme.
Ireland has agreed to take up to 20 unaccompanied minors (UAMs) under the relocation aspects of 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 to Ireland has yet to commence 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.
The total target for relocation EU-wide in the two Council Decisions for relocation also includes an unallocated 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.
Calais Unaccompanied Minors
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 additional unaccompanied minors (UAMs) from France who were previously resident in the migrant camp at Calais. The Child and Family Agency, Tusla, which provides welfare and protection services for unaccompanied minors who enter the State, comes under the remit of my colleague the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Dr. Katherine Zappone TD. I understand that 21 young persons have been relocated to this jurisdiction to-date: 19 of whom are currently in the care of Tusla and 2 of whom have been reunited with family.
Following the Dail resolution on unaccompanied minors who were previously in unofficial camps near Calais, Minister Zappone asked Tusla to put in place the supports needed to coordinate its role in this effort. Tusla launched the Calais Special Project (CSP) and this is being led operationally by their separated children's team. I would note that Tusla’s separated children team also care for unaccompanied minors who arrive on their own and those that are being relocated under the Irish Refugee Protection Programme.
The French authorities have provided assistance in meeting with young persons who were previously in unofficial camps near Calais and have an interest in relocating to Ireland. Tusla officials and members of An Garda Síochána carry out the interviews with the young persons to minimise the time required and any unnecessary duplication of effort. Officials of my Department coordinate with colleagues in Tusla in relation to immigration matters, ensuring that the unaccompanied minors arriving in the State meet the terms of the Dáil motion, transit seamlessly through their port of entry and receive refugee status. Further information on the operation of this initiative can be obtained from Tusla or my colleague, the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Dr. Katherine Zappone TD.
The above initiatives therefore leave just a small residual balance to be allocated from the Government decision to take 4,000 persons.
The Deputy will appreciate that there are many moving parts to such a programme given the large number of state bodies and non-governmental organisations and agencies involved at both national and international level and not all aspects are entirely within the control of my officials. Overseeing a programme that touches on virtually all aspects of the lives of 4,000 vulnerable people is also a hugely labour intensive operation. In these circumstances, I am satisfied that everything that can be done within my Department to ensure the Government meets its humanitarian undertakings under the programme is being done.