Ireland increases intake of refugees for resettlement but numbers being taken in remain low

Figures show we are ahead of schedule on the figure agreed to under the current EU programme

Ireland increases intake of refugees for resettlement but numbers being taken in remain low

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Ireland has increased its intake of refugees for resettling, but the numbers being taken in are still low.

That is according to the ESRI, which has published a report showing Ireland is ahead of schedule on the figure agreed to under the current EU programme.

Ireland pledged to take in 520 people by December 2016 and, as of November, 98% have been resettled. The majority are from Syria.

Ireland's resettlement pledge is almost double the goal proposed by the European Commission.

However, Ireland and the EU more generally have faced criticism for pledging to resettle a small proportion of those in need.

Report author Samantha Arnold has been describing the findings of the study.

"The UNHCR had identified one million refugees who were in need of resettlement," she explained. "The member states pledged to resettle 22,000.

"Generally there's a lot of movement, there's a lot of new programmes across Europe. However, in the context of the scale of the crisis, it means that is perhaps some room to expand."

She added: “This study shows that Ireland has a well-established and respected resettlement programme and that the number of refugees admitted under this programme has increased significantly in recent years. Ireland is also doing well in meeting European-level resettlement commitments ahead of schedule. 

"[However] the forthcoming restriction on family reunification in Ireland will impact negatively on the ability of refugees, including resettled refugees, to reunify with family members left behind.” 

Tánaiste and Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald is currently in Greece, where she is visiting migrant & refugee camps and speaking with people & organisations who have experienced the crisis firsthand.

"By the end of this year between 800 and 900 [people] will have arrived [in Ireland] out of the commitment we have made - that's people coming from Greece and the refugee camps in Lebanon," she told Pat Kenny this morning.

"What I was able to tell the Greek prime minister is that our full commitment to Greece - which is 1,100 - will be met by the end of September."

She explained: "I have to say we will not be housing the refugees in most of our urban centres, as simply the accommodation is not there. We're working with the local authorities to try and source housing.

"Our own minister has committed to the fact that Irish children will not be in hotels... we will stop that by the middle of next year [...] But I think you will also [hear] from people who will say that they want us at the same time to respond to this absolutely appalling humanitarian disaster," she added.