refugee crisis

Syrian refugees coming to Ireland won't have to go through Direct Provision

“5,000 people” is the latest number from ministers. The UK has announced it will take in 20,000 refugees.

Updated 6.20pm

TÁNAISTE JOAN BURTON has confirmed refugees fleeing war and terror in Syria won’t have to go through the Direct Provision system when they arrive in Ireland.

The government is planning to take in around 5,000 people as part of a Europe-wide response to the migration crisis, and is assessing which state properties might be used to house the families being taken in.

The figure is far in excess of the 1,800 figure that was being suggested by senior politicians on Friday.

“These are people who will come in like the people from Bosnia before them and indeed from Vietnam before that – they will come in as what are called, in UN terms, ‘programme refugees’,”Burton told RTÉ’s News at One 

“In other words we’ve made positive arrangements to accept these people who under the Geneva Convention as we know are fleeing war and fleeing total breakdown and dissolution in their own country.”

Under the terms of the scheme refugees would initially be given permission to stay for at least two years. What generally happens in practice in ‘programme’ schemes, the Tánaiste said, is that many people end up going home if the conflict in their country is resolved in that time.

Burton said she envisaged Ireland taking in “up to 5,000″ people over a period of time, but that it wasn’t an exact figure as the refugees would be entitled to bring family members over under UN ‘reunification’ provisions.

joan Joan Burton PA PA

As part of the much-criticised Direct Provision system asylum-seekers are given bed and board in centres around the country, and prohibited from working. It was introduced as a temporary measure in the year 2000.

The government has said state property is being audited to check if there are any vacant buildings that could be used to house refugees coming to Ireland.

Rest of Europe

Elsewhere today, France is to take in 24,000 asylum-seekers under the European plan to relocate a total of 120,000 refugees.

President Francois Hollande confirmed they would be taken in over the next two years and proposed to host an international conference on Europe’s worst refugee crisis since World War 2.

Germany, which is currently opening its doors to a record number of refugees, will make an additional €6 billion in public funds available next year to cover the cost of looking after them.

“The federal government will increase its 2016 budget by €3 billion to cope with the situation with refugees and asylum-seekers and the regional state governments and local authorities will make available a further €3 billion,” the conservative CDU and Social Democrat SPD parties said.

Germany is expecting to receive a record 800,000 asylum seekers this year.

Meanwhile British Prime Minister David Cameron confirmed the UK will accept up to 20,000 refugees from Syria over the next five years.

Britain had a “moral responsibility” to act he said, adding that children and orphans would be prioritised.

FRANCE 24 English / YouTube

Possible attacks in Germany

While Germans have largely welcomed refugees, two fires engulfed refugee centres overnight, injuring five people.

Police say they cannot rule out arson in either case.

One of the fires destroyed dozens of portable homes and forced the evacuation of 80 refugees, in Rottenburg in the western state of Baden-Wurttemberg, said police.

More than 100 firefighters were called to douse the flames.

Five people suffered injuries when they jumped from windows or had to be treated for smoke inhalation.

In Austria

Austria, which has also taken in thousands of refugees, says that it cannot continue to take in people indefinitely.

The country says that emergency measures are only “temporary” as the EU struggles to establish a united response to the crisis.

Austria threw open its borders over the weekend to allow thousands of refugees to travel from Hungary to Western Europe after chaos erupted at Budapest’s main train station where thousands had been stranded in temporary camps.

Most of those are hoping to reach Germany.

Germany Migrants AP / Press Association Images AP / Press Association Images / Press Association Images

But Chancellor Werner Faymann yesterday said the “temporary” relaxation of border rules would have to end, and that “a measure of this type cannot be a solution” to the crisis.

EU ministers are meeting to discuss the crisis next Monday, and Austria is among those pushing for a summit to be held swiftly afterwards.

With reporting from AFP.

Read: Bono: ‘These people are refugees, not migrants’

Read: Empty state property might be used to house refugees

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