Ireland assisted in the relocation of just one refugee classed as an “unaccompanied minor”, from Greece between June 14 and July 11 of this year.
This is according to the latest relocation and resettlement report from the EU Commission.
Ireland signed up to the EU refugee relocation plan last year, aimed at giving international protection to people fleeing war-torn countries such as Syria.
“The pace of relocation of unaccompanied minors remains extremely slow. Since June 14, only six unaccompanied minors have been relocated from Greece (five to Finland and one to Ireland) bringing the total number of unaccompanied minors relocated to 29.
“Only a few member states are willing to accept relocation transfers of unaccompanied minors, and the places offered continue to be insufficient to relocate all the unaccompanied minors who are eligible,” reads the report.
Separately to minors, a total of 28 people were relocated to Ireland from Greece, under the plan between June 14 and July 11.
While large numbers of Syrians are fleeing to Italy and Greece to seek asylum both there and elsewhere, people from the Central African Republic, Eritrea, the Seychelles, Dominica, Bahrain, Laos, and Saudi Arabia are also eligible for relocation under the EU agreement.
According to the report, 3,169 unaccompanied minors arrived in Italy between June 1 and 30. This included approximately 500 Eritreans and a small number of Iraqis.
However, it is not possible for the EU Commission to confirm how many minors of similar status arrived in Greece.
“In Greece, although it is not possible to know the number of arrivals of unaccompanied minors during the same period, the National Centre for Social Solidarity (EKKA) reports that 2,390 unaccompanied minors have been referred to EKKA for accommodation since the beginning of 2016, including 531 are accommodated in dedicated facilities and 911 are waiting to be accommodated,” states the report.
The Irish Refugee Council (IRC) told the Irish Examiner that a simple way for the Government to assist in the humanitarian crisis is to step-up their efforts to relocate unaccompanied minors.
“There are a large number of young people in Greece without a parent or a guardian.
“The Government should consider looking at the situation for young unaccompanied minors and look at relocating some here,” said Caroline Reid, communications officer of the IRC.
Ms Reid also said that the IRC receives calls from Irish families stating their willingness to foster unaccompanied minors seeking reloc- ation.
“We get a lot of approved foster care families contacting us saying they’re more than happy to open up their home and care for these young people.
“It’s a simple thing for the Government to do,” she said.
The Government, in response to the migration crisis in Europe, established the Irish Refugee Protection Programme in September 2015.
The programme is aimed at providing a “safe haven” for people seeking international protection.
A network of Emergency Reception and Orientation Centres were established as part of this programme.
These centres provide the initial reception area for those arriving under the EU relocation and resettlement programmes.
People arriving in Ireland, as part of the resettlement programme, will already have been selected under the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees resettlement programme and granted refugee status.
However, people arriving here as part of the relocation programme do not have their status determined.
It is up to the Department of Justice to process their claims for international protection.
People in both programmes, are initially given accommodation in a centre.
Residents receive full-board, meals, and other services.
According to the Department of Social Protection, a person awaiting a decision on their status will receive a weekly allowance for personal incidental expenditure on the same basis as the direct provision allowance.
A person arriving here under the resettlement programme, is expected to remain in the residential centre for eight to 12 weeks after their arrival.
“This gives them time to rest and adjust to their new environment and to learn about Irish life and culture. It is also a time of recovery,” reads a statement on the process from the Department of Justice.
Refugees in the resettlement programme are also linked to local service providers and have time to visit a GP.
Furthermore, an orientation and language training programme is provided for adults, from 18-years and up, for a period of six to eight weeks.
Then children under the age of 18, take part in an induction programme to get them ready for entry into mainstream education.
People in the resettlement programme, once resettled in the community, are given a full language and training programme by the Education and Training Board for up to 20 hours per week for a period of one year.
Childcare is provided to ensure full participation by both parents in the training programme.
— Joyce Fegan
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