Welcome to the night shift. I hope everyone will stay with us until the early hours. I thank Deputy Brady for asking this question. It is an important issue.
Like many other people, I was deeply saddened by the fire at the Moria camp on Lesbos and the impact this has had on refugees and migrants who were based there. The sudden displacement of thousands of people has caused great suffering to those who were in the camp as well as posing a huge logistical challenge for the Greek authorities in the midst of a pandemic which is already putting much pressure on people.
My colleague, the Minister of State with responsibility for European affairs, Deputy Byrne, spoke with his Greek counterpart immediately after the fire to offer Ireland's full solidarity and support. The Greek authorities requested assistance from EU partners in dealing with the immediate humanitarian needs arising from the fire. My Department, through our embassy in Athens, is in contact with the Greek Ministry of Migration Policy and has confirmed Ireland’s readiness to provide assistance from emergency stocks which we have in place at the United Nations Logistics Base, UNLB, in Italy. The Greek authorities have thanked us for this offer of assistance and we stand ready to work with them regarding the deployment of the emergency supplies.
We in Ireland are endeavouring to do our part having already received 1,022 asylum seekers, including six unaccompanied minors, from Greece under the first phase of the Irish refugee protection programme, IRPP.
In the context of the difficult situation now arising from the destruction of the Moria refugee camp the Government has decided that Ireland will welcome refugee families from Greece under the Irish refugee protection programme. Up to 50 people in family groups will be resettled following displacement due to the fire. This is in addition to the four unaccompanied minors to be taken as part of our pre-existing commitment to take 36 unaccompanied minors from Greece.
Officials from the Department of Justice and Equality are liaising with the European Commission on the detail of this commitment and, along with An Garda Síochána, will travel to Greece in the coming weeks to make the arrangements.
Like many others, I was moved by the images of young children and babies sitting on the side of the street with few or no possessions. We are responding, as I hope other countries in the EU will as well, to show some solidarity and assistance for the people concerned and also for Greece.