PQ: Refugee Resettlement Programme

Tue, March 22, 2016

247. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Justice and Equality to set down the number of Syrian refugees admitted here since the start of the war there five years ago; and if she will make a statement on the matter.

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): Ireland is one of 27 States that participate in a refugee resettlement programme led by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). The focus of the Irish resettlement programme in recent years has been on the resettlement of refugees displaced by the Syrian conflict who are living in one of the hosting countries in the region, for example those living in Lebanon, Jordan or Turkey. NGOs working in cooperation with the UNHCR at a local level identify the most vulnerable persons for resettlement, regardless of their race, religion, nationality or ethnicity.

Resettlement is one of a suite of responses to persons displaced by the Syrian conflict. During 2015, 176 programme refugees were admitted into the State from Jordan and Lebanon of which 163 were part of the Government’s pledge to admit 520 refugees as a part of the Irish Refugee Protection Programme. A further 88 refugees were admitted from Lebanon in 2016 to date. The balance of the 520 were interviewed during a selection mission to Lebanon earlier this year. Arrangements for the admission of the remainder of this cohort are ongoing.

In 2014, Ireland introduced a Syrian Humanitarian Admission Programme (SHAP). The SHAP offered naturalised Irish citizens of Syrian birth and Syrian nationals already legally resident in Ireland an opportunity to make an application for vulnerable close family members to join them in Ireland for up to two years under a sponsorship programme. These are persons who are considered by their sponsoring family member present in Ireland to be most at risk. In addition, Syrians legally resident in Ireland, for example, students or persons on work permissions may apply for an extension of their permission to remain in the State while the crisis situation continues. This Programme is an additional initiative in response to the crisis in Syria and is without prejudice to other avenues whereby by Syrian national might lawfully enter the State, such as family reunification for the family members of refugees and persons with subsidiary protection, and UNHCR’s resettlement programme. It should be noted that 44 applications in respect of 119 persons were approved under the SHAP.

The Irish Refugee Protection Programme (IRPP) was approved by Government Decision on 10 September 2015, in response to the migration crisis in Southern Europe. The Government has confirmed that Ireland would take in up to 4,000 persons by the end of 2017, in respect of relocation and resettlement refugees. This figure of 4,000 includes approximately 2,600 asylum seekers to be taken in from migration hot spots. To date, ten people have arrived in the State under the EU relocation programme. This single Syrian family were relocated from Greece at the end of January.
Under the national asylum procedure, the vast majority of Syrians who have applied for asylum in Ireland since the outbreak of the conflict in Syria in 2011 and whose applications have since been determined, have been declared to be refugees. A total of 107 Syrians have been granted refugee status or subsidiary protection in Ireland since the outbreak of the conflict in Syria in 2011. These are applicants who were granted status having made applications for protection either within Ireland or at the frontiers of the State.

The Deputy will also appreciate that the EU is dealing with a rapidly changing political landscape with regard to the migration crisis in Southern Europe and the situation is likely to remain fluid for a period.

Source.