The Government has announced plans to resettle an extra 260 refugees from Lebanon who have been displaced by the Syrian conflict.
Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald revealed plans yesterday to send a selection team to Lebanon within weeks to select the additional refugees, who are due to arrive in spring 2017.
The decision to increase the number of refugees being accepted in Ireland under the resettlement strand of the Irish Refugee Protection Programme (IRPP) is a direct result of the slower than anticipated arrival of asylum seekers from Greece and Italy because of administrative issues on the ground there, she said.
“My decision reflects the Government’s commitment to welcome vulnerable refugees fleeing war and conflict and is another positive step towards delivering on Ireland’s overall commitment to accept 4,000 persons,” she said.
“Once in Ireland, these refugees will have access to vital health and education services.
“Our focus will be on helping them to rebuild their lives here in Ireland.”
The Government announced plans last September to accept up to 4,000 people under resettlement and relocation programmes as part of the state’s response to the European migrants crisis.
Under the resettlement strand, the government has so far this year provided a safe haven for 273 of the 520 refugees it committed to take from Lebanon.
The balance of the 520 have been security screened and are now undergoing health screening in Lebanon before their transfer to Ireland later this year.
Of the 273 who have been admitted, 250 have completed language training and orientation programmes, while 23 are still undergoing the training while staying at the emergency reception and orientation centres (EROCs) — the Hazel Hotel in Monasterevin and the Clonea Strand Hotel in Dungarvan.
Most have since been housed in Kerry, Cork, Clare, and Limerick. A further 38 Syrians arrived from Greece in recent weeks and are also living in the EROCs.
The Government’s IRPP taskforce met last week to discuss the migrants crisis, and got an update on the technical issues delaying the transfer of refugees from Greece and Italy.
“The Greek authorities have now agreed that they will double the numbers available for transfer to Ireland to 40 persons every four weeks with the prospect of this number increasing further later in the year,” said Ms Fitzgerald.
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