For immediate release: Nasc welcomes important debate on Safe Passage in Dáil tonight

Thu, September 28, 2017

This evening, Thursday 28th September, there will be an important debate in the Dáil on the Refugee Crisis during Private Members Time. The debate is concerned with a Report published by the Joint Oireachtas Committee for Justice and Equality last February.

Nasc CEO Fiona Finn states, “Nasc have long called for the introduction of a humanitarian admission scheme (Safe Passage) to give people living here in Ireland, either naturalised Irish citizens or legally resident refugees and migrants, the opportunity to sponsor and bring family members who are currently displaced or in conflict zones here to safety.”

“We presented our proposal to the Justice Committee last year, and they unanimously supported and endorsed our proposal in their ‘Report on Immigration, Asylum and the Refugee Crisis’,” continues Ms. Finn. “We very much appreciate the Committee’s support for humanitarian admission.”

Nasc’s proposal for humanitarian admission is taken from our years of experience working with refugees, naturalised citizens, and migrants, to help people living here in Ireland to reunite families from conflict zones. More details on the Nasc’s proposal is available here.

“We are acutely aware of the difficulties people face in making applications, in having to decide between family members who to apply for, and in getting refusals when a person knows that their family members are living in the midst of violence and terror,” states Nasc CEO Fiona Finn.

The Department of Justice briefly operated a humanitarian admission programme (SHAP) in 2014, targeted specifically at Syrians, and as a result of this programme, 119 people were able to arrive safely here in Ireland to rejoin their families. The application window for this programme ended after only 6 weeks.

One man who arrived in Ireland under SHAP, Muhammad, came on his own to Ireland to reunite with his brother, who is a naturalised Irish citizen. Muhammad’s parents were left behind in Syria, out of concern that the Irish government would refuse multiple applications under SHAP. When Muhammad arrived safely, his brother subsequently applied for his parents to come to Ireland through the visa process, as the SHAP programme had already ended. This application was refused, and their elderly parents remain in Syria.

Muhammad states, “I arrived in Ireland through the Syrian Humanitarian Admission Programme, and I was very grateful to Ireland for giving me this chance. However, the Programme ended very quickly, and when I tried to apply to bring my parents here from Syria, we were refused our application for visas. It is terrible to know that my parents still live in the midst of violence and I can do nothing to make them safe. And I am not the only one. Please, humanitarian admission will give peace and safety to families like mine.”

Ms. Finn continues, “By not offering complementary pathways like humanitarian admission, the Irish Government forces families like Muhammad’s to make desperate choices – who to apply for, who is ‘most at risk’. Imagine the guilt you must feel having to leave behind family members in war zones, because of these kinds of choices.”

“We are calling on all TDs to be present for this critical debate tonight, and to show their support for families like Muhammad’s, who need humanitarian admission to bring their family members to safety.”

Nasc will be in the Dáil Gallery this evening for the debate, along with Muhammad and several Syrian families who tried but failed to bring family members here from Syria.

“For them, this scheme would provide a lifeline for family members left behind,” finishes Ms. Finn.

ENDS.

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