Tuesday, 23 July 2019

Questions (120)

Fiona O'Loughlin


120. Deputy Fiona O'Loughlin asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade his views on preserving the fundamental rights of persons crossing the Mediterranean to EU countries. [32351/19]

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Written answers (Question to Foreign)

I am very concerned about the situation in the Mediterranean. I discussed these issues with UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi during his visit to Dublin on 11 July. I also expressed full support for the work of UNHCR, and signed a contract for €9 million in core funding to the organisation for 2019.

Saving lives at sea is a priority for Ireland and for this reason we have been active in operations to tackle people-trafficking in the Mediterranean since 2015, first through Operation Pontus, a bilateral agreement between Ireland and Italy running in parallel to Operation Sophia. Ireland has been a full member of Operation Sophia since 2017. Since 2015, Irish naval vessels have rescued thousands of migrants in the Mediterranean.

In 2015, Ireland committed to accept up to 4000 people through the EU Relocation Programme (concluded in March 2018) and the UNHCR-led refugee Resettlement Programme. Since then, Ireland has admitted over 2,500 people under EU relocation and resettlement programmes. Ireland has provided humanitarian assistance in solidarity with other Member States on separate occasions, where possible, by making pledges to take migrants who were rescued in the Mediterranean Sea and to process their applications for international protection.

In addition, the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration was adopted at a UN Intergovernmental Conference in Marrakesh, Morocco on 10 December 2018.

The Global Compact for Migration is the first-ever UN global agreement on a common approach to international migration in all its dimensions and is aimed at addressing the root causes of forced migration.

It aims to reduce the risks and vulnerabilities migrants face at different stages of migration by respecting, protecting and fulfilling their human rights and providing them with care and assistance. It also seeks to address the legitimate concerns of states and communities on the issue of migration and strives to create conducive conditions that enable all migrants to participate in and contribute to social economic development.

The commitments in the Compact are non-legally binding and form instead a normative framework for cooperation on migration. The aim of the Compact is to work towards making migration, where it does occur, safe, orderly and manageable.

Ireland supports the Global Compact for Migration as it represents a balanced approach for cooperation on migration between countries and regions which have very different perspectives on and experiences of migration.

Ireland also supports measures to address the root causes of irregular migration, through humanitarian and developmental programmes in developing countries. Indeed, Ireland’s pledge of €15 million for the EU’s Trust Fund for Africa is the third highest per capita contribution by an EU Member State.

Solving the migration crisis will ultimately require deeper political, economic and development relationships between the EU and neighbouring countries, including many in Africa, that will form a basis for dealing with a variety of challenges on the basis of shared responsibility.