The Irish Red Cross is appealing for continued patience from the public as it works to put procedures in place to process the many offers of accommodation and help that have been pouring in for refugees.
The charity has been asked by the Government to co-ordinate the public response to the crisis amid growing clamour for action to ease the plight of the tens of thousands of desperate refugees still making their way into and across Europe.
With more child deaths in the Mediterranean at the weekend, and fresh scenes of mayhem at the Serbian-Hungarian border yesterday, the public have been expressing deepening concern and eagerness to help.
But the Irish Red Cross is asking that people bear with the organisation as it puts together a plan of action.
It is encouraging people to keep up their emergency response by donating money to NGOs working on the ground in mainland Europe, and particularly in the makeshift camps in Italy and Greece where Ireland’s allocation of refugees will be coming from.
But John Roche, head of international and national services at the Irish Red Cross, said public offers of accommodation and support services would take longer to process and he stressed the importance of sorting through the offers in a thorough and orderly manner.
Mr Roche said the Irish Red Cross was meeting regularly with NGOs and the Irish Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. “This is part of the process of harnessing the considerable knowledge and skills of organisations in this sector,” he said.
“We are also working on a process for co-ordinating the huge outpouring of public support. We know from our experience around the world that good organisation is the essential first step to maximising the impact of all available supports.
“While the public demand for information is understandable, Irish Red Cross respectfully asks that it be recognised that time is needed to co-ordinate the sum of all our parts. At the moment, time is on our side. We do not anticipate needing to have a comprehensive plan in place within a week or two but are proceeding in a orderly and co-ordinated fashion with all involved.”
Ireland has committed to taking in 4,000 refugees and asylum seekers over the next two years — 520 from UN camps in countries bordering Syria and 3,500 from our overwhelmed European neighbours, mainly Italy and Greece.
The first meeting of the taskforce on the Government’s newly-created Irish Refugee Protection Programme set up to manage the process took place on Tuesday but no date has been agreed yet for a follow-up meeting.
Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald, who chaired the meeting, said there was a lot of work to do to before any refugees arrived here. “In the first instance we have to get a profile of the groups who are arriving in terms of whether they are mainly families or single individuals or indeed unaccompanied children,” she told RTÉ.
“As we begin to get the profiles, from Italy and Greece primarily, of those arriving in Ireland, we will be able to being the process of matching accommodation needs.”
The Irish Red Cross donation line is 1850 507070. Other offers can be made to firstname.lastname@example.org
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