Nasc’s International Human Rights Day Message – Welcome to Syrians granted admission under SHAP scheme

Wed, December 10, 2014

Nasc LogoNasc welcomes the announcement yesterday by Minister for Justice Francis Fitzgerald of the grant of admission to Ireland of 111 vulnerable Syrians under the Syrian Humanitarian Admission Programme (SHAP).

Nasc submitted 6 applications on behalf of our clients and all were successful or partially successful with 14 family members in total granted admission to Ireland.

While this was good news for our clients and their families, we are concerned at the high volume of applications refused – 197 of 308 applicants were refused.

The SHAP decisions and the large numbers of refusals have come against the backdrop of International Human Rights Day and the biggest humanitarian crisis the world has seen since the end of World War II. Today marks the anniversary of the United Nation’s formal adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) in 1948.

This year, the global refugee figures passed 50 million for the first time since World War II. We need to ask whether 111 Syrians (whose family members will bear the entire financial cost of their support in Ireland) through the SHAP Scheme and 90 Syrians this year through refugee resettlement is a credible response to a humanitarian crisis of this proportion.

This is the first year that Ireland has accepted Syrian refugees through resettlement in any significant numbers (1 Syrian person was resettled last year) and Minister Fitzgerald has indicated that Ireland will resettle a further 220 Syrian refugees in the next two years. Applications for asylum in Ireland are amongst the lowest in the EU with less than 1,000 asylum seekers entering Ireland last year.

Amongst the international community it does not look like we are shouldering our fair share of the burden. The countries neighbouring Syria are hosting approximately 3.2 million Syrian refugees. In Turkey in three weeks alone in 2013, 180,000 Syrians arrived in Turkey seeking asylum. In Lebanon, Syrian refugees make up 25% of the population. The fifth largest city in Jordan is a refugee camp.

Nasc’s Legal Officer Fiona Hurley asks:

“Ireland’s offer of approximately 100 resettlement places per year is a mere drop in the ocean to them. Several times that number cross over their borders each night. If they were to close their borders it would precipitate an imaginable humanitarian crisis. Can we really continue to ask Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey to keep their borders open if we are not also prepared to pull our weight? We cannot ask of other countries what we are not willing to do ourselves.”

Even within the EU, Ireland is falling behind in its response. Romania has just completed its second wave of resettlements from Syria; France has issued 800 visas for mainly Iraqis and Syrians to travel to France to claim asylum; Austria has increased its resettlement quota for Syrians to 1500 and has put in place 150 scholarships for young Syrians to complete their third level education; Germany has granted asylum to 50,000 Syrians and has welcomed 20,000 Syrian refugees through private sponsorship schemes as well as continuing to increase its traditional resettlement quotas.

Ms. Hurley continues:

“Ireland needs to think outside the box in terms of finding other non traditional ways of resettling refugees. The SHAP scheme was a start but much more is needed. This is an unprecedented crisis and Ireland needs to have an unprecedented response.”

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