Nasc launch Safe Passage campaign

Sun, June 19, 2016

SafePassageOn June 20th, 2016, World Refugee Day, Nasc launched a new campaign – Safe Passage – to call on the Irish Government to introduce a Sponsorship Scheme for Syrians.

4.8 million Syrians are currently refugees and an additional 6.6 million are internally displaced as a result on the ongoing conflict in Syria. It is estimated that up to 400,000 people have died, an estimated 14,000 of whom are children. Of the 4.8 million Syrian refugees, only 10% of that number have managed to make the perilous journey to Europe. The rest have been forced to remain in refugee camps in Lebanon, Turkey, and Jordan, or worse, stuck in Syria in the midst of ongoing violence and political persecution.

The European response to date has been focused more on border controls and security, rather than providing protection and humanitarian supports. The provision of safe and legal migration channels for Syrians is essential to ensure that people fleeing the conflict are able to access protection and safety.

Nasc is calling on the Irish government to immediately implement a Sponsorship Scheme for Syrians who are legally resident or citizens of Ireland, to enable them to bring family members currently in Syria or the surrounding territories to safety in Ireland.

Nasc proposes:

  1. Reintroduce an enhanced Syrian Humanitarian Admission Programme (SHAP), similar to the programme introduced by then Minister for Justice Alan Shatter in 2014. This programme, which ran for a limited time, granted permission to 111 Syrians to come to Ireland to join their families who were settled here. By reintroducing a new programme, we have an opportunity to build upon the SHAP and develop a programme that is more timely, effective and efficient for the state and families alike. The enhanced programme would include a ‘co-sponsorship’ element, which would allow Irish citizens, community and faith based groups, charities and NGOs to support a Syrian person’s SHAP application, providing financial, social and institutional backing and thus improving a person’s opportunities for integration. This co- sponsorship aspect allows the Irish government to harness the outpouring of support and goodwill coming from Irish society in support of those fleeing the conflict in Syria, while also easing the financial burden on the Syrian community in Ireland and on the Government to provide for newly arrived Syrians.
  2. Take a stronger humanitarian approach in decision making on all Syrian family reunification applications. This would include the use of positive discretion when adjudicating applications for extended family members of refugees. It would also include the implementation of the provision in the non-refugee family reunification policy, which gives decision makers the discretion to grant family reunification in cases where the requirements are not met. This already existing policy can be triggered in exceptional cases of a humanitarian nature – all that is required here is for the State to implement its own policy. The current and ongoing conflict in Syria and resultant profound impact that this war has had on upon the civilian population would, in our view, constitute an exceptional case of a humanitarian nature.

Support Nasc’s campaign to provide #SafePassage for Syrians #wemustdomore #refugeeswelcome. 

More details of the Campaign will follow over the next several days, so please watch this space.

ADDITIONAL INFO: To find out more about our proposed scheme, please read our Policy Brief here.

Watch Nasc’s powerful video highlighting one Syrian man’s story of hope:

MEDIA: To read our Press Release covering the launch of the Campaign, click here. Click here to read an Opinion Piece on the launch by Nasc’s Jennifer DeWan, here to read the Irish Times coverage of the launch of our campaign, and here for IrishTV’s interviews with Syrians trying to bring family members to safety.

GET INVOLVED:  To find out how to get involved in the Campaign, please email info@nascireland.org with ‘Safe Passage’ in the subject line.

Evening Echo OpEd

Cork Evening Echo Op Ed 17 June 2016