Wednesday, 18 December 2019

Questions (199)

Seán Haughey

Question:

199. Deputy Seán Haughey asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if Ireland has fulfilled its commitment to accepting 4,000 refugees as part of the resettlement and relocation programmes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53533/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

In 2015, as part of Ireland's response to the migration crisis in central and southern Europe, the Government established the Irish Refugee Protection Programme (IRPP). Under this programme, the Government committed to accepting up to 4,000 people into the State, primarily through a combination of the EU Relocation Programme and the UNHCR's Refugee Resettlement Programme.   

I can inform the Deputy that a total of 3,151 people have arrived in Ireland to date under the various strands of the IRPP. 

In total, 1,022 people were welcomed into Ireland under the EU relocation mechanism, which has fulfilled Ireland's commitment to this strand of the Programme.   

Under UNHCR-led Resettlement strand, a commitment was made to resettle 1,985 people, of which 1,858 resettlements have been completed. With the arrival of a further 55 persons by the end of this month, a balance of only 72 persons will remain to be resettled under this strand.

On the advice of the Defence Forces, it has not been possible for staff from my Department to travel to Beirut to complete the selection of this cohort, which will now take place in early 2020. Flexibility has been sought from the European Commission on the timing of these arrivals given the current volatility in Lebanon. 

The IRPP programme also includes the IRPP Humanitarian Admission Programme (IHAP) under which Irish citizens, programme refugees, UN Convention refugees and persons with subsidiary protection can apply for family members to come to Ireland where those persons are living in the top 10 refugee generating countries.  It is expected that 740 people will arrive under the Programme and 159 people have already arrived in the State. There will be some delay in the completion of the IHAP strand, as those granted permission to travel to Ireland make their own arrangements for travel, the exact timing of which is not known to the Department. 

In addition Ireland agreed to accept 77 unaccompanied minors from camps in Calais and Greece and 163 people who have been landed from the Mediterranean Search and Rescue operations.  Of these cohorts, 36 unaccompanied minors remain to be transferred to Ireland from Greece and 92 people are yet to arrive from the Search and Rescue missions.  There are a further 13 places not yet allocated to any of the mechanisms mentioned above which will complete Ireland's commitment under the IRPP.

The Deputy may be aware that the Government agreed yesterday to Ireland pledging to welcome up to 2,900 refugees between 2020 and 2023 through a combination of resettlement and community sponsorship under plans put forward by Minister Flanagan and myself.  I was therefore able to make that pledge when I spoke at the first Global Refugee Forum, organised by the UNHCR to mark the first anniversary of the signing of the Global Compact on Refugees.  

Under the plans, a new phase of the Irish Refugee Protection Programme (IRPP) will see 650 UNHCR resettlements in 2020, 700 in 2021, 750 in 2022 and 800 in 2023. The arrivals for the first two years will largely comprise Syrian refugees resident in Jordan and Lebanon, along with a pilot group of 150 Eritrean refugees resident in Ethiopia.

I am pleased to have obtained funding of €9m from the European Commission to support the resettlement of 900 people between early 2020 and June 2021. 

I and Minister Flanagan are proud that Ireland, as an active member of the international community, will continue to play our part in providing a safe haven for those seeking refuge from war and persecution.