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International Protection

Dáil Éireann Debate, Thursday - 30 September 2021

Thursday, 30 September 2021

Ceisteanna (204)

Catherine Connolly

Ceist:

204. Deputy Catherine Connolly asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the engagement he has had with the Minister for Children, Disability, Equality, Integration and Youth and the Minister for Justice with regard to expanding the Irish Refugee Protection Programme to facilitate an increased number of asylum seekers from Afghanistan to be granted refugee status in Ireland; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47197/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Foreign)

The current programmes through which Afghan nationals can re-locate to Ireland are the Irish Refugee Protection Programme, managed by the Department of Children, Equality Disability, Integration and Youth Affairs, and the family reunification and international protection programmes managed by the Department of Justice.  Last month I announced, together with the Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth, and the Minister of State for Law Reform, Youth Justice and Immigration, that places would be allocated to Afghan nationals under the Irish Refugee Protection Programme.  The Refugee Protection Programme was created in 2015 as part of Ireland’s response to the migration crisis in central and southern Europe. It allows a predetermined number of vulnerable people in need of international protection to be granted refugee status in Ireland.

Approximately 370 places have been allocated to Afghan nationals under the Irish Refugee Protection Programme and some 150 of those have arrived in Ireland.  Priority was given to those working on human rights issues, including the rights of women and girls, and minorities, as well as those working with NGOs and European and international organisations.  My colleague the Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth considers requests for refugee status.  My officials transmit requests received to his Department for consideration.

The Government at its meeting earlier this week, approved the introduction of a new Afghanistan admission programme. Under the new programme, current or former Afghan nationals resident in Ireland can apply for close family members in Afghanistan, or who have recently fled Afghanistan to certain countries, to be granted temporary residence in Ireland. I very much welcome this new proposal from my colleague, the Minister for Justice, which will create a tailored reunification programme and enable Ireland to better respond to the situation in Afghanistan. Up to 500 places will be available under this programme. The current possibilities for Afghan nationals to be granted permission to enter Ireland will continue in parallel to the new programme.

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