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Over 1,700 Irish citizens abroad required help due to arrests, kidnappings and deaths in 2019, figures show

Some citizens required supports during Hong Kong protests and terrorists attacks in Kenya.

Irish embassy in Washington, USA.
Irish embassy in Washington, USA.
Image: Shutterstock/Bill Perry

MORE THAN 1,700 Irish citizens, caught up in major incidents oversees, were provided with consular assistance from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in 2019. 

Some 1,723 new cases were opened between January and November this year for various reasons including arrests, child abductions, deaths abroad and missing persons.

It also varied from support required during terrorist attacks in Sri Lanka and Kenya, to protests in Hong Kong and political instability in South America.

It represents a drop of around 600, compared to the 2,300 Irish citizens who received assistance in 2018. 

Medical issues was the biggest cause of assistance requests from the Department and Irish embassies around the world, with 270 new cases opened this year. 

Deaths abroad reached 268, arrest cases reached 243, while another 184 cases were opened under the category of welfare. 

consular assistance abroad 2019 Source: DFAT

Speaking of the latest figures, Tánaiste and Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney urged Irish citizens to review Department travel advice before travelling to another country. 

“Irish citizens continue to travel more often and more widely than ever before, meaning a greater frequency and complexity of consular cases. This presents ever-growing challenges in providing assistance for Irish citizens who get into difficulty overseas,” he said. 

“While most journeys overseas go smoothly, the 2019 statistics show that things can and do go wrong and that it is important to be prepared.  

“As people consider travel plans for the year ahead, I urge them to get comprehensive travel insurance. Anyone travelling to Europe should also carry the ‘EHIC’ European Health Insurance Card, while those going to higher-risk countries should register their travel details with us online.

“I greatly appreciate the efforts of our network of 94 Honorary Consuls in 60 countries, and the assistance they provide to Irish citizens. Our Honorary Consuls complement the work of our embassies and consulates in providing vital frontline services.”

Consular assistance is provided by staff at the Department here in Ireland, in 80 embassies and consulates-general, and in 94 Honorary Consuls. 

Over 260 families required the support of the Department following the death of a loved one abroad. A significant number of cases required assistance over an extended period.  At any one time, the Department’s Consular Assistance team is working on over 150 active cases.

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