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The UN's refugee chief is in Ireland and says wait times in Direct Provision must improve

Filippo Grandi complimented Ireland on its resettlement efforts.

Grandi yesterday during his meeting with President Higgins.
Grandi yesterday during his meeting with President Higgins.
Image: President.ie

THE HEAD OF the UN’s Refugee Agency has commended Ireland’s resettlement efforts but also expressed hope that wait times for people in Direct Provision improve.

UN High Commissioner Filippo Grandi yesterday met with President Michael D Higgins and will today meet with the Taoiseach, Tánaiste and Minister for Justice.

In a message as part of his visit, Grandi said Irish people have been “exemplary” in their support of refugees around the world through both financial support and resettlement programmes.

“Ireland has a proud history of offering resettlement places for the most vulnerable refugees. We should not underestimate the life-saving changes that the Irish people have made to those resettled following their flight from conflict or persecution,” Grandi said.

As part of the message, the UN’s Refugee Agency said the High Commissioner “welcomed reforms intended to improve reception conditions” and also hoped that changes to determination procedures would allow people to “exit Direct Provision earlier”.

Ireland’s Direct Provision system has been coming under increased scrutiny with migrants rights groups highlighting that vulnerability assessments for people seeking asylum have not been made available.

The State was also forced to apologise over the case of Sylva Tukula, who died while the in Direct Provision system and was buried without ceremony or notice given to her friends.

Last month, President Higgins hosted an even in Áras an Uachtaráin highlighting issues around Direct Provision and he made reference to that event during his reception for Grandi yesterday. 

“Refugees turn to their fellow global citizens for protection and shelter, with the hope for a better future and increased opportunities for themselves and their families,” Higgins said during the reception.

Many have had to grapple with a foreign language, a different climate, and a new set of social customs. Others I know have experienced prejudice and stereotyping born of ignorance and fear.

“As President of Ireland, when I hear of this, I am deeply saddened, and I have offered an apology on behalf of the people of Ireland to any of those affected by such callous and unacceptable behaviour. We are all on our shared vulnerable planet challenged to give authentic meaning to what we mean by hospitality.” 

NY: UN High Commissioner for Refugees UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi. Source: SIPA USA/PA Images

Community programmes

Ahead of his meeting with the Taoiseach and senior ministers, Grandi praised Ireland’s introduction of the Community Sponsorship Programme which the UN says helps refugees develop language skills and access and navigate public services.

The programme was introduced on a pilot basis in 10 areas last March to allow members of the public to help with the integration of refugee families into Irish communities.

Grandi went on to welcome Ireland’s support of the UN’s Global Compact on Refugees, which seeks to make helping refugees more equitable across the international community.

At present, almost 90% of the world’s refugees are being hosted in developing rather that developed countries.

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Rónán Duffy

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