Thank you for your question on this important matter.
The answer to your question is no UAMs were received into Ireland during 2019. The first cohort of 8 young people relating to the agreement arrived in June 2020. The state’s capacity to bring unaccompanied children to Ireland is determined by the available care placements, and the commitments the state has made to unaccompanied children who are already here.
Tusla provides care for two categories of unaccompanied child. These are unaccompanied child refugees who come to Ireland under specific relocation projects like the Irish Refugee Protection Programme (IRPP) and to children who arrive, unaccompanied by a guardian, to ports of entry. These children are known as separated children seeking asylum (SCSA).
Both categories of child are sometimes referred to as unaccompanied minors or UAMs and are cared for by the same Tusla specialist team called Separated Children Seeking Asylum Team.
Separated Children Seeking Asylum
Over the course of 2019 Tusla's Separated Children Seeking Asylum team received 167 referrals. These referrals include children who arrive unaccompanied at a port of entry but who have an adult relative or friend who lives in Ireland and is willing to care for them. The SCSA team carries out preliminary enquiries to ensure that the person has a genuine relationship with the child, and does agree to care for them before placing the child in their care.
The children who do not have adult relatives or guardians are received into care, and there were approximately 46 of these children being looked after by Tusla in 2019.
Irish Refugee Protection Programme (IRPP)
The Irish Refugee Protection Programme is administered by the Department of Justice and Equality. Since 2017, Tusla’s has participated in the European Union Relief Projects (EURP) which include IRPP, Calais Special Project (CSP), Malta Relief, Greece Relief. The following is a breakdown of the programmes to date:
41 from France under CSP
6 from Greece Relief under IRPP
8 from Malta Relief under IRPP
8 from Greece under the IRPP in June 2020
We anticipate the arrival of four further children in the coming weeks. My officials and I are working with Tusla to identify additional resources, in the context of Budget 2021, to meet our commitments to the transfer of unaccompanied children to Ireland as quickly as possible from Greece.
I would appreciate the support of the Deputy in this endeavour.