Frances Fitzgerald to represent Ireland at special UN summit on refugees

Ireland has accepted only 38 of the 2,622 refugees it has committed to taking from Greece

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Hundreds of life jackets placed by activists line the shore of the NYC waterfront on Friday | Photo: PA Images

World leaders will try to come up with a plan for an international response to the global refugee crisis at a special United Nations summit later.

The UN estimates that 57,000 migrants are now trapped in Greece in 47 camps - unable to continue their journeys because Europe has closed its borders.

Minister Frances Fitzgerald is representing the Irish government at the gathering of 193 heads of state, which follows talks co-chaired by Ireland and Jordan earlier this year. 

Ombudsman for Children Dr Niall Muldoon said yesterday that he had written to Ms Fitzgerald to inquire about the progress being made in implementing the EU relocation scheme.

Ireland has so far taken only 38 refugees from Greece, included one child, despite committing to resettling 2,622 people as part of the scheme, he said. 

Meanwhile, Oxfam Ireland has warned that it fears the summit will fall short of what is needed to address the global displacement crisis.

"At this rate, it will take 10 years to fulfil our commitment – time people don’t have to wait," CEO Jim Clarkin said of Ireland's response to date.

"Given the unimaginable suffering and uncertainty they are fleeing, this is unacceptable."

Poorer countries host 86% of the world’s refugees and asylum seekers while the six biggest economies in the world (the UK, US, China, Japan, France and Germany) host less than 9%, according to Oxfam.

Brexit challenges

Separately, on Saturday, Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan is due to deliver a speech at the UN General Assembly.

His trip to New York this week will also feature discussions with Irish community and business leaders, focusing on the challenges posed by the UK's vote to leave the EU.

Mr Flanagan will host a business breakfast in the city this morning before delivering a keynote address at the Fordham University's School of Law.

A statement from his department said the address will underline that Ireland is "wholeheartedly committed to our membership of the European Union" and emphasise the opportunities available to US investors here.

The speech will stress that US is overtaking the UK as our largest trading partner, while also emphasising the importance of a continued flow of goods and service between Ireland and Britain.

Speaking ahead of his departure for the UN, Minister Flanagan described the ongoing migration crisis as one that resonates with Ireland’s own history of emigration.

"I will be emphasising the need for the international community tackle the root causes of the migration crisis, rather than focus on addressing the symptoms of the problem," he said of his address to the UN General Assembly.