EMN Ireland published new research Ireland’s Response to Recent Trends in International Protection Applications. This study is part of EU wide research into policy, legislative and operational responses by Member States to increased numbers of asylum applications during the “migration crisis” (2014-2016).
- The flow of displaced persons into Ireland has been much lower than in many EU Member States. However despite its peripheral geographical location, Ireland did experience an increase in asylum applications in the years that correspond with the EU refugee and migrant crisis: after a sustained period of decreasing asylum applications, 2014 saw a 53 per cent increase over the previous year (1,448 applications were made in 2014 compared to 946 in 2013). During 2015, applications increased again by 126 per cent, to reach 3,276 before declining to 2,244 in 2016 and in 2017, there were 2,926 applications. The majority of applicants in 2017 were from Syria, followed by Georgia, Albania, Zimbabwe and Pakistan.
- In Ireland, like in many other Member States, a number of operational, legislative and policy changes were introduced specifically to address or manage fluctuations in the number of asylum applications, or to better control migration flows. Such policies and practices responded both to the wider EU refugee and migrant crisis, which had limited direct impact on Ireland but which changed the policy context, as well as to national increases and decreases in asylum applications.
- UNHCR Ireland has observed that a number of elements in the Irish response to the EU refugee crisis represented positive change, including the establishment of the Irish Refugee Protection Programme (IRPP).
- Asylum seekers are now waiting an average of 18 to 20 months to complete the first interview in the application process, according to an NGO working in the field. This is a steep increase from the average waiting time of 11 weeks in 2015 and 16 weeks in 2016. Staff and resource shortages, in the context of increasing applications, contributed to a backlog of cases developing in 2014-2015. The introduction of a new system under the International Protection Act 2015, in December 2016, should lead to more efficient processing once backlogs are cleared. However, transitioning to the new system also resulted in delays. The longer waiting times come at a time when applications are increasing.
- The housing crisis has also caused bottlenecks in the accommodation system for asylum applicants. Refugees and others granted permission to remain in Ireland may not be in a position to leave centres if they can’t find alternative accommodation. Improvements made to Direct Provision centres, for example the introduction of self-catering units, have reduced bed capacity in some centres. The system is operating at almost full capacity and authorities have struggled to procure additional accommodation centres to house asylum applicants.
Publication launch, 7 June 2018
EMN Ireland will launch this publication, Ireland’s Response to Recent Trends in International Protection Applications on 7 June 2018, followed by a reception to mark the 10 Year Anniversary of EMN.
For more information:
See also: https://emn.ie/10years