Experts in Greece to identify children who can be offered shelter in Ireland

Minister Katherine Zappone says we need to do more

Experts in Greece to identify children who can be offered shelter in Ireland

Migrants from Syria walk into a refugee camp in Kokkinotrimithia village outside the capital Nicosia, Cyprus | Image: Petros Karadjias AP/Press Association Images

Experts from the Child and Family Agency Tusla are in Greece to help identify children who can be offered shelter and support in Ireland.

The Children's Minister Dr Katherine Zappone says the three-day mission will continue the process of identifying lone children who wish to come to Ireland to re-start their lives.

Minister Zappone also confirmed she is asking the agency to report how more separated children can be accommodated here from the frontline, and from camps such as Calais.

"While my Department and Tusla does respond to the needs of an average of 100-lone-children who arrive in Ireland each year, I am deeply concerned about the plight of those left languishing in camps both in the hotspots of the Mediterranean and as we recently saw in Calais", she said.

"The conditions they are being forced to endure are atrocious and have been condemned not just by frontline agencies but also by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees.

"As an Independent Minister I am keenly aware of Ireland’s responsibilities.

"Today my officials from Tusla are back on the ground in Greece continuing their efforts to fulfil our commitment to take 20-unaccompanied children and to explore how many children are interested in re-locating in Ireland.

"However we can do more and I have asked Tusla to review capacity to speed up the pace and increase the numbers coming to our communities."

Ms Zappone is asking Tusla to identify any additional resources which may be required.

The minister says she is also working with colleagues in Government in the wake of the clearing of the jungle camp in Calais - to see what assistance and support Ireland can provide French authorities.

"Tyrants, terrorists and traffickers have ruthlessly placed children in the frontline of this crisis with many paying with their lives - that is unacceptable and I share the determination of many that Ireland must continue to act.

"In the coming days, weeks and months I will continue working with Tusla and others to ensure we are in a position to reach out to children separated from their loved ones to offer safety, shelter and hope."