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taliban takeover

Ireland confirms plans to issue 150 humanitarian visas to Afghan refugees

The Minister for Foreign Affairs also said there are 23 Irish nationals in Afghanistan with the majority seeking to leave.

LAST UPDATE | 16 Aug 2021

THE GOVERNMENT HAS confirmed that Ireland will accept 195 refugees from Afghanistan after the Taliban seized control of the country. 

Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney, Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth Roderic O’Gorman and Minister of State for Law Reform, Youth Justice and Immigration, James Browne today announced the provision of up to 150 additional humanitarian visas for Afghans under the Irish Refugee Protection Programme (IRPP). 

This is in addition to 45 visas already approved in recent days for Afghans in similar circumstances.

In a statement this evening the Government said: “Speaking in an emergency meeting of the United Nations Security Council on the situation in Afghanistan today, Ireland strongly condemned the appalling attacks perpetrated against civilians, and called for an immediate end to violence and intimidation. Ireland specifically condemned attacks targeted against women and girls and joined other Council members in calling for safe and reliable humanitarian access, and for the work of all relevant UN agencies and humanitarian partners to be facilitated without exception.

“Ireland has been a strong advocate for the rights of women and girls in Afghanistan and has highlighted the importance of upholding the fundamental human rights of all people living in Afghanistan.”

“Ireland will play its part in providing practical support to some of those under threat from the Taliban by providing for their resettlement in Ireland. Priority will be given to those working on human rights issues, including the rights of women and girls, as well as those working with NGOs and European and international organisations.

“The allocation of up to 150 refugee resettlement places under the Irish Refugee Protection Programme is in addition to 45 visas already approved in recent days for Afghans in similar circumstances.”

The Department of Justice is also prioritising the processing of family reunification and visa applications for Afghan nationals on hand, which is expected to result in a further approximately 150 people being granted permission to enter Ireland, it said. 

Earlier today, Social Democrats TD Gary Gannon had also questioned what will happen to the 50 or so Afghan people here who are subject to deportation orders with the Department of Justice confirming no deportation orders to Afghanistan will be enacted. 

Minister Coveney said this morning that he expects “a lot more” refugees over the coming weeks and months. 

Coveney told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland that Afghan refugees being accepted by Ireland will likely prioritise those from human rights organisations and the media, women and girls as well as family members of Afghan nationals who are living in Ireland. 

Coveney also said that the Department of Foreign Affairs is aware of 23 Irish nationals who are currently in Afghanistan, with 15 expressing a desire to leave the country following its takeover by Taliban militants. 

The minister was speaking as tensions flared at Kabul’s main airport as thousands of Afghan and foreign nationals converged on the airport in the hope of securing a flight out. 

US troops who had earlier secured a perimeter around the airport fired shots into the air as numbers swelled on the airport’s tarmac. 

A number of organisations are reporting that several people died during the chaotic scenes. 

Meanwhile, Taoiseach Micheál Martin has called on the Taliban to show restraint and to uphold international law as it emerged Ireland is to accept almost 200 Afghan refugees in the coming days.

In a statement released this afternoon, Martin said he was “deeply concerned” by the ongoing situation in the country and that the pace of developments there has taken many by surprise.

“I fully endorse the call from UN Secretary General António Guterres for the Taliban to exercise the utmost restraint.  Protecting lives, meeting humanitarian needs and respecting people’s human rights are paramount.

“All parties, including the Taliban, are obliged to, and must, respect international humanitarian law.”

United Nations secretary-general Antonio Guterres has said the Afghans “have known generations of war and hardship”.

In an emergency session of the UN Security Council on the situation in Afghanistan, Mr Guterres urged the Taliban to uphold human rights, especially for women and girls.

He told the meeting: “We are receiving chilling reports of severe restrictions on human rights throughout the country.

“I am particularly concerned by accounts of mounting human rights violations against the women and girls of Afghanistan, who fear a return to the darkest days.

“The international community must unite to make sure that Afghanistan is never again used as a platform or safe haven for terrorist organisations.”

He added: “Afghans are a proud people with a rich cultural heritage. They have known generations of war and hardship. They deserve our full support. The following days will be pivotal, the world is watching. We cannot and must not abandon the people of Afghanistan.”

In the Taoiseach’s statement this afternoon, Micheál Martin added that the international community must play its full part in providing humanitarian aid and facilitating refugees. 

“The UN Security Council, of which Ireland is currently a member, is meeting this afternoon.  And a meeting of the EU Foreign Affairs Council will take place tomorrow,” Martin added.

With reporting by Garreth MacNamee and Cónal Thomas 

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