herald

Saturday 10 December 2016

We're likely to take in over 4,000 refugees, says Government minister

migrants

Aodhan O Riordain
Aodhan O Riordain

A GOVERNMENT minister expects growing numbers of Syrian refugees to seek accommodation here, over and above the 4,000 the State has agreed to resettle.

Junior minister Aodhan O Riordain said the number of people seeking refuge is likely to increase when families are reunited.

Mr O Riordain, who has special responsibilities for new communities, made the comments as a Government taskforce on refugees met yesterday.

Ireland has agreed to take the 4,000 refugees as the conflict in war-torn Syria continues.

However, the minister believes that figure will be higher as the crisis escalates. The Government is expecting the first arrival of refugees next month.

"I don't think we're anywhere near the peak of this crisis.

"4,000 (refugees) is three times what was originally expected of us to take. That number will grow when family reunification is taken into consideration.

"This is not an issue that's going to go away anytime soon.

"As the Irish people have said quite clearly, they expect the Irish government to be generous in our response to this issue," said Mr O Riordain.

Meanwhile, a group representing immigrants believes the Government needs to implement a plan to help refugees to integrate.

The Immigrant Council of Ireland has called on the Government to prioritise family rights, training and access to education for refugees.

Communications manager with the council, Jerry O'Connor, believes a plan should be put in place to ensure that refugees are not "living in limbo".

"We need to ensure that the refugees that are coming to Ireland are fully integrated.

"That means they should have the right to be with their loved ones. Basically we must do everything possible to ensure that they are able to call the communities they live in 'home'," Mr O'Connor added.

The group has also drafted a submission to the United Nations as part of a review of human rights in Ireland which takes place next April.

One of the measures include "protection laws" which will provide for independence of decision making and also the establishment of "an independent appeals mechanisms for immigration and naturalisation decisions".

Rights

Across Europe, different countries have implemented varying responses to the massive humanitarian crisis resulting from the Syrian conflict and the plight of desperate migrants trying to cross the Mediterranean from North Africa.

Austria announced yesterday day it plans on building a fence along its border with neighbouring Slovenia to ease the flow of migrants attempting to enter the country.

However, the government moved to ease tensions that they were shutting the border along Slovenia.

Austrian government minister Johanna Mikl-Leitner said the fence would ensure an orderly entry into the country.

The Government here is currently considering how it will accommodate the new arrivals.

At the end of 2014, 4,275 people were living in controversial direct provision centres around the country.

Dublin is the home of the highest number of asylum seekers, with 716 living in the capital.

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