Ireland responds positively to EU call for Action on Migration - Fitzgerald

Minister Fitzgerald announces plans to resettle additional 300 vulnerable people in response to European Commission proposals on Migration

13th May, 2015

Frances Fitzgerald T.D., Minister for Justice and Equality, has today welcomed the publication by the European Commission of the European Agenda on Migration. The new document will form the basis for discussions at EU level over the coming weeks.

 

Minister Fitzgerald stated: “I have previously expressed my horror and outrage at the tragic loss of life in the Mediterranean Sea. I have also consistently said that the humanitarian crisis unfolding in the Mediterranean was an EU issue that requires a coordinated EU response and that Ireland will play its part.”


The EU Agenda on Migration published today includes specific proposals on the resettlement of migrants in Europe under which Ireland is expected to receive 272 people by the end of 2016.


Responding to the Commission proposals, Minister Fitzgerald referred to Ireland’s proud record on resettlement where it has worked closely with the UNHCR to successfully resettle 1,200 vulnerable persons from 27 countries of origin since the programme commenced in 2000. The Minister explained that Ireland has already committed to resettling 220 people, mainly Syrian, in 2015/16.


On the specific Commission proposals, the Minister said that the proposals are comprehensive covering a number of issues and will require detailed analysis before they are discussed by the European Council in June. However, the Minister said that she wanted to underscore Ireland’s on-going commitment to playing our part in responding to the crisis in the Mediterranean and in relation to the specific Commission proposals on resettlement.


The Minister stated: "I want to say clearly that Ireland is committed to contributing to the resettlement effort at European level to the greatest extent possible. Rather than waiting until the Commission’s proposals are discussed formally by Home Affairs Ministers in June, I want to indicate that it is my intention to seek early Government approval to resettle an additional 300 vulnerable people as our contribution to this European initiative."


The Minister concluded by saying that this commitment on resettlement should be seen as part of the wider Government response to the crisis in the Mediterranean, including sending a naval vessel the LE Eithne to the region to engage in search and rescue..

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Note for Editors

The EU Commission’s proposals include an EU wide resettlement scheme to offer 20,000 places distributed in all Member States to displaced persons in clear need of international protection.

The commitment to resettle an additional 300 vulnerable people announced today is part of Ireland's overall contribution to the crisis situation in the Mediterranean. Ireland is also sending a naval vessel the LE Eithne to the region to engage in search and rescue.

Ireland has always adopted a humanitarian approach to consideration of leave to remain for applicants seeking protection. Over the past 10 years over 30,000 persons who have come through the Protection process in Ireland have been granted Refugee Status and Leave to Remain in the State under various processes.


Specifically in respect of Ireland’s resettlement program since the beginning of the resettlement programme in 2000, 1,198 vulnerable persons from 27 different countries of origin have been resettled here. Ireland is working closely with the UNHCR to respond to the plight of the most vulnerable persons displaced by these conflicts. Ireland has played its part in the international community resettlement effort and will continue to do so in the context of the EU response to the Mediterranean refugee crisis. The total number of persons displaced by the Syrian conflict admitted to Ireland under the resettlement programme to date is 138 persons. This includes 31 Afghans and four Iraqi Palestinians admitted from Damascus in 2013, 90 Syrian refugees admitted from Jordan in 2014 and 13 Syrian refugees who arrived from Jordan in April 2015.In addition Ireland has operated a Syrian Humanitarian Application under which 114 people will be coming to Ireland to join family already here.


Ireland will continue to assist people affected by conflict and persecution. Violence, conflict and instability have a horrendous impact on civilian populations. Families are faced with repeated displacement due to conflict and have very limited access to basic services. Ireland, through the Irish Aid programme, has been responding to the many problems facing these vulnerable populations. This year Ireland will provide nearly €80 million in funding to support communities affected by humanitarian crises including in Syria, Yemen, Northern Nigeria, Central African Republic, South Sudan and other conflict affected areas.