I propose to take Questions Nos. 105 and 112 together.
I am deeply concerned about the humanitarian situation in the Mediterranean and the need for a comprehensive approach to migration.
Migration remains a difficult issue within the Union where views can often be sharply divided. There are countries which have been required to take in large numbers of asylum seekers and others who continue to resist taking in any. Ms. Ylva Johansson, the recently appointed EU Commissioner for Migration and Home Affairs, has been tasked with developing a “New Pact on Migration and Asylum”.
We have consistently called for all EU member states to play their part in burden-sharing and helping to relieve pressure on frontline Member States. The issue of migration will not go away. Over 1200 people have died trying to cross the Mediterranean this year. The EU must intensify its efforts to advance work in this area, particularly in relation to reform of the Common European Asylum System. Any solution should be based on responsibility and solidarity. I look forward to the von der Leyen Commission and the new Commissioner, Ms Johansson, coming forward with proposals early in 2020.
Since 2015, Ireland has admitted over 2,900 people through the EU Relocation Programme and the UNHCR-led Refugee Resettlement Programme. Furthermore, we have allocated 100 spaces in 2019 to take people who were rescued in the Mediterranean and to process their applications for international protection. In addition, Ireland has been active in Search and Rescue missions in the Mediterranean since 2015. The Irish Naval Service has rescued more than 17,500 people since the beginning of the crisis.
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.
Globally, the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) is one of Ireland’s key UN partner agencies for development assistance and is the main agency providing protection and humanitarian assistance to refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs). In 2019, Ireland provided a total of €15.5 Million (US$17m) to UNHCR’s global operations. This included €9 million un-earmarked core funding and €6.5 million via country programmes.
While the social, economic and political stresses arising from the migration crisis are very considerable, it is essential that humanitarian and legal obligations continue to be met. This includes the reception conditions for applicants for international protection. Applicants who are in detention should be treated with full respect for human dignity and in accordance with relevant EU and international standards. This is an issue to which our Missions, working closely with local EU Delegations and Embassies of EU Partners, are and will continue to pay close attention to both in frontline and transit states currently receiving high levels of persons arriving from outside Europe seeking international protection.