A new EMN Ireland report on Resettlement of Refugees and Private Sponsorship in Ireland finds that the number of refugees resettled to Ireland doubled between 2015 and 2016. However the overall number resettled remains low in the context of the crisis.
The report indicates that Ireland has shown commitment to a European response. Ireland pledged to resettle 520 under the EU Resettlement Programme, almost double the number proposed by the European Commission. As of November 2016, Ireland had resettled 98 per cent of this total, ahead of schedule. The majority of those resettled have been of Syrian origin.
Ireland responded to the refugee crisis by establishing the Irish Refugee Protection Programme (IRPP), which is now the umbrella under which Ireland’s resettlement programme operates. The IRPP’s remit also includes relocation of asylum applicants from within Europe and the integration of new arrivals. Formal orientation courses and longer-term targeted integration supports are provided for resettled refugees as part of the resettlement programme. Nationally, there have been calls to extend such supports to refugees exiting the direct provision system.
The Syrian Humanitarian Admission Programme was also established as a national response to the crisis. It was a once-off private sponsorship scheme for Syrian family members, available for a period in 2014. Although limited in scale it was new in domestic immigration policy and uncommon in an EU context.
The UNHCR and NGOs have called on the Irish Government to create additional legal migration pathways for persons in need of protection, including through family reunification.
UNHCR and others, however, have expressed concern that the International Protection Act 2015 will limit the scope of family reunification for refugees in Ireland. When the Act is fully commenced family reunification will be restricted to a refugee’s immediate family members and a 12 month time limit for applications will be introduced. Where possible, Ireland currently resettles whole nuclear families.
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