Nasc welcomes announcement of humanitarian admission programme for families fleeing conflict and persecution

Mon, May 14, 2018

For immediate release – 14 May 2018

Nasc warmly welcomes the announcement by the Minister for Justice and Equality Charlie Flanagan and Minister of State David Stanton of the first call for applications under the Irish Refugee Protection Programme (IRPP) Humanitarian Admission Programme 2, or “IHAP”.

The IHAP scheme, described as a “Family Reunification Humanitarian Admission Programme” when it was originally announced last year by the Minister, will allow beneficiaries of international protection (i.e. refugees and those granted subsidiary protection), as well as programme refugees and Irish citizens the opportunity to apply for admission for family members currently living in vulnerable situations in 10 countries identified as “major source countries for refugees”. IHAP applies to family members who would not be eligible under the current family reunification provisions in the International Protection Act, 2015.

“Nasc warmly welcome that this scheme is now in place and the call for applications is open. Humanitarian Admission is something we called for through our national Safe Passage campaign, and it will provide a crucial pathway for people living in Ireland to be reunited with their extended family members who are still in places of conflict and persecution,” states Nasc CEO Fiona Finn.

“We, and many of the refugees and naturalised refugees we support through our legal service, have been eagerly awaiting the roll out of this programme, especially those who have been refused family reunification under the current restrictive provisions in the International Protection Act,” continues Ms. Finn.

Ms. Finn continues, “We agree with Minister Stanton that this offers a ‘humane and flexible response’, and we welcome that the list of eligible countries is open to change. We are particularly happy that since the original announcement of the scheme in November 2017, the Minister has opened up the programme to include naturalised Irish citizens. It would be awful if becoming an Irish citizen ended up excluding former refugees from being able to bring family members to safety.”

“It is important to note that while the IHAP will go some way towards reversing the consequences of the restrictive family reunification provisions introduced in the International Protection Act when it commenced at the end of 2016, it is not a replacement for legislative reform. It is a small scale administrative scheme which is temporary in nature, only includes proposed applicants from 10 countries and is capped at 530 participants.”

“In our view, the IHAP is recognition from the Department of the harm caused to families through the removal of family reunification rights for extended family members in the Act. The Family Reunification Amendment Bill 2017, which is due before the Dáil, provides an ideal opportunity to provide a more permanent and durable solution for all refugee families seeking to be reunited with extended family members,” finishes Ms. Finn.

The Irish Government operated a Humanitarian Admission Programme for Syrians (SHAP) briefly in 2014, and through SHAP, 111 Syrians were able to be reunited with family members here in safety in Ireland. However, the window for applications was only 6 weeks, and the programme was not renewed. Nasc currently holds a waiting list of over 40 individuals currently living in Ireland who are seeking to make applications to be reunited with extended family members who are still living in conflict zones or refugee camps around the world.

ENDS.

Notes to the Editor:

Details of the IHAP are available here.

Nasc’s Safe Passage Campaign – 2 page policy brief

The Syrian Humanitarian Admission Programme (SHAP) operated from 14 March 2014 until 30 April 2015. 111 people were granted SHAP permissions out of 308 applications in late 2014, and the majority of those granted a SHAP permission arrived in spring 2015.

The International Protection (Family Reunification) (Amendment) Bill 2017 is a Private Members Bill introduced by the Seanad Civil Engagement Group, which has now passed the fifth stage of the Seanad and is waiting to move into the Second and Final Stage in the Dáil.

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