The commitments that the Government has made in terms of accepting refugees and unaccompanied minors to Ireland; the number of persons to date who have been accepted to Ireland
QUESTION NO: 40
DÁIL QUESTION addressed to the Minister of State at the Department of Justice and Equality (Deputy Aodhán Ó RIordáin)
by Deputy Darragh O'Brien
for WRITTEN on Tuesday, 11th October, 2016.
* To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality the commitments that the Government has made in terms of accepting refugees and unaccompanied minors to Ireland; the number of persons to date who have been accepted to Ireland under the various resettlement and relocation programmes and the number of unaccompanied minors who have arrived here, 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)
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 by the end of 2017, through a combination of the EU relocation mechanism established by two EU Council Decisions in 2015 to assist Italy and Greece, and the UNHCR-led refugee resettlement programme currently focused on resettling refugees from camps in Lebanon.
Under the resettlement part of the Programme, 520 refugees are to be resettled in Ireland by the end of 2016. To date, 486 refugees have been admitted to the State and a further 14 are scheduled to arrive today. Sufficient cases were selected during a mission to Lebanon earlier this year to ensure that the full quota of 520 will be taken in during 2016, ahead of schedule. In addition, the Government recently announced that it is extending the resettlement programme to take in a further 260 refugees from Lebanon in 2017.
Under relocation, Ireland has to date taken in 69 Syrians from Greece, mostly families and a further 40 people are scheduled to arrive this month. A further 63 people have been assessed and cleared for arrival and arrangements for their travel to the State are currently being made. Last week, IRPP officials interviewed a group of 71 people in Athens who, once cleared for travel, are expected to arrive in November. Further missions are scheduled for November and December and by the end of 2016 it is expected that Ireland will have accepted up to 400 people through the relocation pledge system. The intention is to sustain the pace of intakes throughout 2017 at the levels required to allow Ireland to meets its commitments within the timeframe envisaged by the Programme. The figures are summarised in a table below as requested by the Deputy.
In announcing the Programme, the Government recognised the importance of addressing the position of unaccompanied children. The relocation of unaccompanied minors is a complex and sensitive process, involving various aspects of European and domestic law, and any actions taken in relation to this vulnerable group must have the principle of the best interests of the child and the prospect of family reunification at their centre. Ireland is committed to relocating unaccompanied minors and is actively working to overcome the barriers that have presented themselves in this regard. Ireland has thus far been able to transfer one unaccompanied minor from Greece. Further efforts were made to identify unaccompanied minors for relocation by Tusla officials who took part in a mission to Greece last week and these efforts will continue.
Table - Arrivals to Date
IRPP Programme Numbers admitted (as of 11 Oct 2016) Unaccompanied Minors admitted (as of 11 Oct 2016)
Resettlement 500* 0
Relocation 69 1
* subject to scheduled arrival of 14 persons today