JUSTICE MINISTER ALAN Shatter has confirmed that Ireland has taken in “approximately fifty” refugees displaced as a result of the Syrian crisis since the start of the conflict in March 2011.
He said decisions still needed to be made regarding another five cases but that so far the country hadn’t “turned away anyone who sought political asylum” since the violence began.
It was announced by the United Nations this morning that the number of Syrian refugees had passed the two million mark. The figure is a nearly ten-fold increase on this time last year; around half of the total are children.
The majority of those displaced have been registered in Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey – with large numbers also seeking refuge in Iraq and Egypt.
Speaking in Rathmines this afternoon after an inspection of the Irish troops being dispatched to the Golan Heights area of Syria, Shatter said that the situation in the country was an “enormous human catastrophe” and that he expected the two million figure would be “substantially exceeded” in the course of the conflict.
It was announced earlier today that the State will provide another €1 million in humanitarian aid for refugees fleeing from the crisis. The contribution brings Ireland’s total support for those affected in Syria and neighbouring countries by the crisis to almost €11 million.
Minister for Foreign Affairs Eamon Gilmore will discuss the situation at a meeting of EU foreign ministers beginning on Friday in Lithuania. US Secretary of State John Kerry will also attend.
A statement from the Department says that “Ireland fully supports efforts to reach a political solution”.