Ireland to accept 260 more refugees under resettlement programme

Department of Justice says the arrival of asylum seekers is slower than anticipated

Ireland, refugees, migrants, asylum seekers, Greece, Lebanon, resettlement programme, Frances Fitzgerald,

Syrian brother and sister (left to right) Sofia (3yrs) and Astia (4yrs) hugging on the sea front in Kos after making the crossing from Turkey | Image: RollingNews.ie

The Tánaiste and Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald has confirmed Ireland will take an additional 260 refugees under the Refugee Resettlement Programme.

Ms Fitzgerald says she will send a team to Lebanon to select them.

Ireland is set to meet its resettlement commitment of 520 refugees ahead of an EU deadline.

While the Department of Justice says the numbers relocating to Ireland from Greece are to ramp up in the coming weeks.

273 refugees have already arrived from Lebanon and the remainder of the 520 refugees will be here by the autumn, Ms Fitzgerald said.

“This is in advance of the EU deadline and clearly demonstrates Ireland’s continued proactive approach to resolving this unprecedented humanitarian crisis.”

The additional 260 refugees will be admitted in the spring of 2017.  

In a statement, the Department of Justice says the decision by the Tánaiste to increase the number of refugees “takes account of the slower than anticipated arrival of asylum seekers from Greece and Italy as a result of administrative issues in those countries.”

Accees to health and education

Minister Fitzgerald said: “The delay has been largely outside of our control and my officials have been working closely with their Greek and Italian counterparts on this issue.”

“The Greek authorities have now agreed that they will double the numbers available for transfer to Ireland to 40 persons every four weeks with the prospect of this number increasing further later in the year. In effect this means that the relocation strand will now be fully operational,” she added.

Once in Ireland, the refugees will have access to health and education services.

Last week, the Tánaiste chaired a meeting of the Irish Refugee Protection Programme Taskforce.

The meeting was informed that 250 of the 273 refugees displaced by the Syrian conflict admitted to Ireland have already completed their initial language training and orientation programmes.

The remainder of the quota of 520 refugees are being health screened in Lebanon prior to transfer to Ireland.

520 refugees are to be resettled in Ireland by December 31st 2017, of whom 273 have been admitted from Lebanon to date since July 20th 2015.