The nearly 200 humanitarian visas made available to people from Afghanistan in recent days is likely to be just the beginning, according to an MEP.
The Government last night approved 150 more of the visas under the Irish Refugee Protection Programme – on top of the 45 already approved in recent days.
People making use of the visas will not have to enter the Direct Provision system when they arrive in Ireland.
MEP Frances Fitzgerald told Newstalk that she expects more of the visas to be made available over time.
“I think that will be reassessed,” she said. “I am sure that, if you like, that is a first response.”
“I think we need to re-look at family reunification. Look at the Afghans who were here already, who have put in, probably many months ago, for family reunification.
“We need to take a fresh look at that and I have no doubt the numbers will be increased.”
It comes as EU foreign ministers prepare to hold an emergency meeting to discuss the bloc’s response to the crisis.
Crowds of desperate people rushed to the airport in Kabul yesterday as people looked to flee the country in the face of the Taliban advance.
Ms Fitzgerald says there needs to be a particular focus on the plight of women and girls in the country.
“The young girls and women are in a very vulnerable position given the Taliban’s attitude to women, to education to women’s rights to equality.
“We know that many, many women are at risk right now and the international community has to reach out and take every action they possibly can to stress the importance of the safety of Afghan citizens.
On Newstalk Breakfast yesterday, the Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney said there were 23 Irish citizens in Afghanistan – noting that Ireland was attempting to bring 15 of them home.
He labelled the decision to withdraw NATO troops 20 years after the US invasion of the country the “most significant foreign policy catastrophe” the world has seen for decades.
In a speech last night, US President Joe Biden defended the decision to withdraw, insisting that the country’s mission in Afghanistan was never meant to be nation-building.
He acknowledged the Afghan government collapsed quicker than expected, but accused local leaders of 'giving up'.
He claimed the US gave the people of Afghanistan ‘every tool they could need’ to build a state free of the Taliban.
“We gave them every chance to determine their own future,” he said. “We could not provide them with the will to fight for that future.”
The Taliban has claimed that its fighters are under strict orders not to harm anyone and to protect the “life, property and honour” of the people; however, the UN has warned of "chilling" reports of curbs on human rights and violations against women and girls.
The previous Taliban regime in the country included the use of stoning, whipping, hanging and amputation as a means of punishment.