Under this Programme, Ireland will offer a welcome safe haven for families and children who have been forced to leave their homes due to war and conflict” – Minister Fitzgerald
IRELAND WILL WELCOME 4,000 refugees as part of the country’s response to the current crisis.
Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald announced the figure for the initial provision after a special cabinet meeting this morning.
Ministers signed off on the Irish Refugee Protection Programme which will see reception and orientation centres set up around the country. The new scheme will provide a “safe haven” for an extra 2,900 “persons seeking international protection”.
That is on top of the 600 people Ireland already committed to taking in earlier this year under the EU Relocation programme and the 520 refugees currently being resettled.
Even more than 4,000 could eventually be accepted because of further family reunifications.
State property – under the care of the Defence Forces and the OPW – is being audited to check if there are any vacant buildings that could be used to house or welcome refugees coming to Ireland.
Minister Fitzgerald said that a range of offers have also been received from voluntary and religious organisations.
It is understood that some refugees in groups of 50 or 100 will arrive within weeks – particularly those who had been accepted from Lebanon earlier this year.
Others coming under this new plan will come before the end of the year.
An additional budget allocation has been approved to deal with the major increase in asylum and other immigration cases, as well as the backlog of cases in the current system.
The scheme will cost €12 million per thousand refugees.
“It is only right that we are do all we can as a nation to help,” Fitzgerald said in a statement, welcoming the number of expressions of support from the public which have included pledged accommodation.
I have been clear that we must do all we can to harness the potential of these generous offers.
The Irish Red Cross, Civil Defence and other NGOs have been asked to pursue all of these options to find suitable homes for men, women and children arriving from Syria and elsewhere.
The Red Cross said today it will be collating offers of accommodation from the public and anyone wishing to offer a place in their home to refugees can call 01 6424 600 or email MigrationCrisis@redcross.ie.
It is envisaged that the new Emergency Reception and Orientation Centres will be established to initially accept and process those accepted into the protection programme. A decision on refugee status will then be made in those centres within weeks.
The Department of Justice plans to work with the Education Department, State agencies and charities to ensure integration measures are put in place, including the provision of English language training and communication socialisation programmes.
We will put in place all the necessary supports to ensure that those coming to Ireland can integrate as well as helping them to overcome any trauma they endured on having to flee their home countries,” Fitzgerald said.
Special arrangements will also be put in place to support unaccompanied and vulnerable children.
Ireland’s participation in the EU programmes will be discussed at an extraordinary meeting of the EU Council of Justice and Home Affairs next Monday.
Today Minister for Health Leo Varadkar signed regulations to exempt asylum seekers living in direct provision from the prescription charge levied on medical-card holders.
This was based on a recommendation by a working group which highlighted concerns of asylum seekers with chronic health issues who struggle paying the charge from their weekly support of €19.10.
With reporting by Sinéad O’Carroll