Under the Irish Refugee Protection Programme established by the Government in 2015, the Government committed to accepting 4,000 people into Ireland. To date, a total of 2,555 people have been admitted to Ireland under the Programme.
In a gesture of humanitarian assistance towards the most vulnerable caught up in the migration crisis, the Government also committed to take unaccompanied minors from France who were previously resident in the migrant camp at Calais. 41 unaccompanied minors have arrived in the State from the Calais Special Project, which has now concluded.
Ireland agreed to accept a further 36 unaccompanied minors from Greece, whose arrivals will take place on a phased basis during 2019. In a show of solidarity with those EU Member States most affected by migration in the Mediterranean, Ireland accepted 58 persons from search and rescue missions in 2018, including 4 unaccompanied minors. The Minister has also agreed to accept 5 further unaccompanied minors from Malta in 2019.
Ireland has welcomed 205 programme refugees from Lebanon so far in 2019. An IRPP mission to Lebanon in March selected 331 further refugees for resettlement. Members of the IRPP are currently in Jordan in order to select approximately 300 more programme refugees. This will complete Ireland’s commitment to admit 1,985 programme refugees under the Resettlement strand of the IRPP. The remaining refugees are expected to arrive in Ireland by the end of 2019.
The IRPP programme also includes the IRPP Humanitarian Admission Programme under which Irish citizens, programme refugees, 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. 530 persons are being admitted to Ireland this year under that programme.
A pilot Community Sponsorship Programme began in December 2018 and will run until October 2019 with a target of resettling a minimum of 50 refugees. Community Sponsorship Ireland is an alternative to the traditional state-centred model of resettlement. The model enables groups within a community to come together to support refugees arriving to be resettled in Ireland. Twelve persons have been housed to date. The first family arrived on 11 December 2018 and three further families have since been resettled. A number of additional families considered suitable for Community Sponsorship were identified during the October 2018 and March 2019 selection missions in Lebanon. The IRPP mission to Jordan which is currently underway will assess the suitability of interviewees for inclusion in the Community Sponsorship Programme.
Achieving the target of admitting 4,000 persons under the Irish Refugee Protection Programme has required sustained commitment from a range of Government Departments and local authorities.
During his recent visit, UNHCR High Commissioner Grandi highlighted the importance of Ireland's participation in resettling refugees under the Irish Refugee Protection Programme. I intend that work will begin later this year to consider future plans for the Programme.