herald

Friday 9 December 2016

EU to pay half the €48m cost of supporting 4,000 refugees on the way here

Joan Burton
Joan Burton
Frances Fitzgerald

THE EU will pay half the €48m cost of caring for the 4,000 refugees being taken in as part of Ireland’s effort to help with the European migrant crisis.

Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald has said that Brussels will pay €6,000 per refugee towards the estimated yearly programme of €12m per 1,000 refugees. Ms Fitzgerald said

Ireland will take about 2,900 more people, mainly from war-torn Syria, in addition to the 1,100 already agreed.

The Justice Minister said Ireland’s contribution was expected to be in excess of what would be requested by the EU Commission at a meeting in Brussels next Monday. 

NUMBERS

Tanaiste Joan Burton insisted that her earlier prediction of 5,000 refugees being taken would very likely be borne out as the extra numbers would be family members who would be entitled to follow on.

The junior minister responsible, Aodhan O Riordain, said he believed the first people could arrive “within weeks” and many of those being taken could be in Ireland by Christmas.

The Immigrant Council of Ireland warmly welcomed the announcement, saying it

accorded with the Irish people’s outpouring of goodwill towards stricken migrants.

The council warned that the challenge now was to deliver appropriate services and facilities quickly.

“We need systems which will allow those refugees who have been torn apart from their families to be reunited in Ireland when their loved ones are found in North Africa, on boats on the Mediterranean or in other parts of Europe,” Brian Killoran of the Immigrant Council of Ireland said.

Officials said a new task force, combining up to a dozen government departments and agencies like the Red Cross, will coordinate the logistical challenge of taking in the refugees.

A Justice Department official said the gardai would liaise with overseas police forces and international agencies like Interpol and Europol to deal with any potential security threat.

“We will be guarding against the potential threat of Islamic militants or simply criminals slipping into the country in this way. All of those involved will be systematically finger-printed to help in this,” the official said.

But Ms Fitzgerald also said the vast majority of those coming were decent people who needed sanctuary from the horror of war.

There will be special support for women, children and unaccompanied minors to ensure their protection. 

Meanwhile, Hungarian police have launched an investigation after an online video showed a crowd of migrants clamouring for food in a hangar at a reception centre as police in surgical masks throw out packs of sandwiches.

The footage was taken at a refugee camp in Roszke on Hungary’s southern border with Serbia, where thousands have been crossing every day.

Government spokesman Zoltan Kovacs said the footage showed a detention centre where people spend only a few hours in an “optimal case”, but can also remain there for up to two days.

“I can see policemen trying to take care of 23,000 migrants arriving continuously day by day,” Kovacs said. “I can see they are trying to maintain order among those who are unable to line up for food.”

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