Ireland in the bottom of EU countries receiving unaccompanied minors seeking asylum

The Department of Justice says this is mainly due to our geographical position in Europe

Ireland in the bottom of EU countries receiving unaccompanied minors seeking asylum

Young refugees sit in the central child welfare center for unaccompanied refugee minors in Neumuenster, Germany, 02 November 2015. There is space for about 60 young people in the former police station. Around 2,500 unaccompanied refugee minors are expected this year in Schleswig-Holstein. Photo: CARSTEN REHDER/dpa

Last year, Ireland registered 35 children who claimed asylum after arriving on Ireland's shores unaccompanied.

Figures released yesterday by the EU's statistical arm, Eurostat, show that Ireland placed 20th out of the 28 member states for registered asylum applications for unaccompanied minors.

Rather than showing a country hostile to refugee and asylum seeker resettlement position, Ireland's position on the list has more to do with where it sits geographically.

A spokesperson with the Department of Justice explained:

"This is a category of person over which no country, including Ireland, has control, and the figure of 35 such persons in 2016 would be broadly in line with the annual figure in previous years.

"Our geographical position in the EU makes it more likely that an unaccompanied minor will have their first entry in another EU Member State and any claim for asylum would fall in the first instance for that country."

Any unaccompanied children arriving in Ireland are placed into the care of Tusla, and Ireland's ability to take in unaccompanied children is determined by the capacity of the child and family agency.

Across Europe 

Last year a total of 63,290 unaccompanied children claimed asylum in the EU, with six out of 10 claiming asylum in Germany.

Overall this was a decrease on 2015 when 96,465 unaccompanied minors claimed asylum  - but still around five times higher than the yearly average of around 12,000 in the years between 2008 and 2012.

After Germany, the countries that took in the largest number of unaccompanied children were Italy (6,020), Austria (3,900) and the United Kingdom (3,175).

Refugees and asylum seekers in Ireland 

A much clearer reflection of the government's current action on resettling refugees can be seen in the Irish Refugee Protection Programme (IRPP) which has a focus on relocating asylum seekers from Italy and Greece to Ireland and resettling refugees from the Lebanon to Ireland - with the government committed to resettling 4,000 in September 2015 following the humanitarian crisis in the Mediterranean.

Responding to a parliamentary question earlier this month, minister of state at the Department of Justice David Stanton stated that as of the end of April, Ireland had resettled 1,191 refugees and asylum seekers.

Out of this number, around 536 people have been housed and are living in various locations around the country. It is expected that a further 100 will be housed before the end of June.

As part of this programme the government has gone beyond targets set for it by the European Commission by committing to taking additional refugees resettled in Ireland from the Lebanon and providing up to 200 additional spaces for unaccompanied minors being resettled from the now defunct Calais migrant camp.