Tánaiste, Minister Zappone on official visit to Greece to assess migration progress

Ireland has committed to take 520 Syrian refugees in 2016

Tánaiste, Minister Zappone on official visit to Greece to assess migration progress

Children's Minister Katherine Zappone speaks to the media in the Royal Hospital Kilmainham, Dublin | Image: RollingNews.ie

130 refugees from Greece will be arriving in Ireland before Christmas.

Children's Minister Katherine Zappone confirmed the news in Greece this evening.

Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald and Ms Zappone are undertaking a three-day official visit to Greece.

They are there with senior officials from the Departments of Justice and Children - including the director of the Irish Refugee Protection Programme, the Refugee Applications Commissioner and a child care specialist.

The visit is being billed as an opportunity to see first hand the effects of the migration crisis on both migrants as well as Greek society - and to provide an opportunity to assess progress to date.

As part of the trip they will visit reception camps, meet senior Greek ministers, meet Irish officials working with migrants in Greece and meet migrants, refugees, their children and unaccompanied minors.

Speaking in advance of the visit Ms Fitzgerald said: "The Irish Refugee Protection Programme is making real progress and I want to ensure that our efforts continue and indeed accelerate.

"This visit provides an opportunity to engage directly with the Greek authorities as well as people working on the frontline and to further demonstrate Ireland’s commitment to playing a full part in International efforts to resolve this crisis."

Minister Zappone added: "Warlords, terrorists and human traffickers have put children in the front-line of this humanitarian crisis. I am going to Greece to listen to the voices of children.

"I will also see at first hand the vital work of Irish volunteers on the ground.

"So far this year 112 lone children have arrived in Ireland – of which 66 remain in the care of my officials at the Child and Family Agency Tusla."

By the end of 2016, it is expected that 400 people will have arrived or been cleared for arrival to Ireland from Greece under the EU programme.

This is in addition to Ireland’s intake of programme refugees from Lebanon under the resettlement strand of the IRPP.

Ireland has committed to take 520 Syrian refugees in 2016 - 507 refugees are already in Ireland and the balance will arrive in the coming days.

Ireland has also further committed to take another 520 programme refugees in 2017.