- Final 129 asylum seekers relocated from Greece arrive this afternoon
- Signals the successful conclusion of Irish participation in relocation from Greece
- 1,022 asylum seekers have now been relocated to Ireland in addition to 792 programme refugees
- Resettlement of programme refugees to continue
The Minister for Justice and Equality, Charlie Flanagan TD, and the Minister of State with responsibility for Equality, Immigration and Integration, David Stanton TD, today welcomed the arrival of 129 people into Ireland under the EU’s relocation programme. The Ministers are pleased to announce that this signifies the successful conclusion of Ireland’s participation in the EU relocation programme in Greece. Ireland has now received all the asylum seekers available for relocation to Ireland from Greece following the arrival of a special charter flight in Baldonnel this afternoon.
Minister Flanagan said: “I am delighted that Ireland has concluded this strand of the Irish Refugee Protection Programme (IRPP). We voluntarily opted-in to the relocation mechanism as an act of solidarity with EU member states responding to the plight of an unprecedented number of asylum seekers fleeing conflict in the Middle East, and also because it was quite simply the right thing to do. Ireland committed to offer protection to 4,000 people and work is continuing under the IRPP to deliver on that commitment.”
Minister of State Stanton said: “This is one of my core areas of responsibility and a personal priority for me. I am very happy to bring another aspect of our humanitarian programme to a successful conclusion. During the IRPP we doubled our existing commitment to bring in 520 people under resettlement in our most ambitious programme ever. I would like to acknowledge and thank my colleague Minister Paul Kehoe for the significant logistical support provided by the Defence Forces to facilitate the safe arrival of the 129 people into Ireland today under the EU’s relocation programme.”
Today’s final flight contained 73 adults and 56 children, 36 of whom are under the age of 12. It was a charter flight organised by the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) with whom the IRPP work closely on a range of fronts. The flight arrived into the Permanent Defence Forces Air Corps base in Casement Aerodrome, Baldonnel.
Minister Flanagan added: “Given the key humanitarian role that the Defence Forces continue to play in the Mediterranean and peacekeeping in Lebanon, the arrival of this final flight into Baldonnel is a fitting conclusion to this strand of the IRPP.”
The EU relocation programme in Greece officially closes on 31 March 2018 and under this strand Ireland has now relocated 1,022 asylum seekers, in addition to the 792 programme refugees who have already been resettled in Ireland directly from Lebanon. Efforts will now be focused on delivering on the continuing commitments under the resettlement strand of the IRPP, working closely with the UNHCR, and on the new humanitarian family reunification scheme (FRHAP). Between these two strands Ireland has committed to bringing in a further 1,723 people.
Minister of State Stanton added: “We are continuing work to complete our ambitious targets and have committed to further increase numbers by 2019. I am determined that the IRPP, working with its partners both at home and abroad, will actively respond to assist those in need of protection.”
The Ministers thanked the staff of the IRPP, the International Protection Office (IPO) and An Garda Síochána for their work in bringing this part of the IRPP to a successful conclusion. These agencies have met and interviewed the relocation applicants in Athens and IPO staff have liaised with the Greek authorities and international bodies in relation to their travel to Ireland. The IPO will also be processing their applications for international protection. The Ministers also expressed their appreciation to all organisations involved in the delivery of the IRPP, those represented on the National Taskforce and all those in the voluntary, civil society and NGO sector who are working hard to welcome and make a better life for those resettling in Ireland under the IRPP.
The Irish Red Cross was also in Baldonnel today to welcome the arrivals. The charity provided hygiene kits to every single person on the flight while baby kits were also given to the infants. The Irish Red Cross also supplied the coaches for transport from Baldonnel; these coaches were accompanied by two Irish Red Cross ambulances manned by four volunteers who were on hand to provide assistance, if required. Altogether, 20 flights under the relocation strand of the Irish Refugee Protection Programme (IRPP) have been supported in a similar fashion by the Irish Red Cross. The Irish Red Cross supports the resettlement and integration of those who come into Ireland under the relocation strand of the IRPP.
Note for editors:
Relocation and Resettlement are two separate programmes both of which Ireland has opted to participate in as part of the Irish Refugee Protection Programme (IRPP)
- Relocation means the EU relocation programme established by two EU Council Decisions in 2015 to assist Italy and Greece as a result of the migration crisis. These EU Council Decisions covered the relocation of up to 160,000 asylum seekers who fell into specific nationalities based on EU asylum recognition rates. In practice, this related to the relocation of mainly Syrian nationals from Greece and Eritrean nationals from Italy. Relocated asylum seekers have their application for international protection examined on arrival in the State.
- Resettlement refers to the admission of persons under the UNHCR-led refugee resettlement programme, which is currently focussed on resettling mainly Syrian refugees from Lebanon. Persons admitted to the State under the resettlement programme receive “programme refugee” status on arrival in Ireland.