Ireland's refugee programme has room to expand, study finds

Ireland's refugee programme has room to expand, study finds
Syrian refugees arrive in Greece. Picture: AP

The number of refugees resettled in Ireland doubled between 2015 and 2016, but the numbers being taken in are still low.

A new ESRI (Economic and Social Research Institute) study shows that while Ireland has a well-established programme for refugees, there is room for expansion.

In response to the recent and ongoing refugee crisis, Ireland pledged to resettle 520 people. As of November, 98% of that number have been integrated ahead of schedule. The majority are from Syria.

Ireland and the EU have been criticised for pledging to resettle only a small proportion of those in need.

Researcher on the Resettlement of Refugees and Private Sponsorship in Ireland report Samantha Arnold said the EU's response overall had been positive, but that there was room to expand it.

"The (UN Refugee Agency) UNHCR had identified one million refugees who were in need of resettlement. Under the European schemes, the member states pledged to resettle 22,000," she said.

"Generally, there are a lot of new programmes across Europe. However, in the context of the scale of the crisis, it means there is perhaps some room to expand."

Yesterday, the Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald said Ireland would accept at least 1,100 asylum seekers from Greece by September next year. (The figure includes those who have already arrived here.)

Minister Fitzgerald was meeting Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras as part of her official visit to the country with Minister Katherine Zappone.

She said the Irish Government was determined to welcome vulnerable people fleeing war and conflict.

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