Spike in number asylum seekers applying for refugee status in Ireland

A sharp increase in the number of asylum seekers from Pakistan and Bangladesh led to more than a doubling of applications for refugee status in Ireland last year.

The Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner said applicants from those two countries, most of whom had previously been resident in the UK, accounted for half of all new cases during 2015 as the number of applications rose to their highest level since 2008.

Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald expressed concern last year about the trend of young men on student visas in the UK travelling to Ireland to prolong their stay within the EU.

Pakistanis accounted for 41% of all asylum seekers in 2015 and Bangladeshis almost 9%. The other main countries of original of applicants were Albania, Nigeria and India.

Frances Fitzgerald
Frances Fitzgerald

In its latest annual report, the ORAC said it received applications from 3,276 asylum seekers in 2015 compared to 1,448 the previous year — an increase of 126%. Males accounted for four out of five of all cases.

It was also revealed that a number of refugees were considered for exclusion from the asylum process last year because of suspected links to serious crimes such as crimes against humanity or war crimes.

The number of refugee status cases fully processed by the ORAC rose by 46% last year to 1,552. The organisation also finalised 1,480 files relating to subsidiary protection.

However, the commissioner, David Costello, said the extent of the workload meant there were still 2,582 cases awaiting completion at the end of last year.

The rise in number of new applicants pushed the average waiting time for a substantive interview with asylum seekers to over 30 weeks.

Over 2,900 sets of fingerprints were sent to the EU’s asylum fingerprint database for examination. Tests showed 231 refugees had already sought asylum in other EU member states.

A new more streamlined process for dealing with applications for asylum is set to come into operation this year following the publication of the International Protection Bill in December which will result in decisions relating to refugee status and subsidiary protection taken at the same time.

The number of family reunification applications also increased by 63% last year — from 167 to 272, while 33 applications for refugee status were received from unaccompanied minors.

Mr Costello welcomed a significant reduction in the number of legal challenges to their decisions, which he attributed to the quality processes and training.

The commissioner said last year was also very challenging for his office for dealing with the Dublin III Regulation — the EU’s system for determining the member state responsible for the examination of an individual’s asylum application.

Over 2,900 sets of fingerprints were sent to the EU’s asylum fingerprint database for examination. Tests showed 231 refugees had already sought asylum in other EU member states.

Spike in number asylum seekers applying for refugee status in Ireland

Mr Costello said his office anticipated processing some 2,500 asylum seekers being relocated to Ireland from Greece and Italy as a result of the refugee crisis.

Separately, the Refugee Appeals Tribunal said the number of hearings before it in 2015 more than doubled with the tribunal sitting on 799 cases last year — up from 367 in 2014. It also issued rulings in 640 appeals — up 151%, while there are 1,675 cases awaiting a decision.

More on this topic

Donations pour in for arrested captain of humanitarian rescue shipDonations pour in for arrested captain of humanitarian rescue ship

A call for EU to halt criminalisation of humanitarian support for refugeesA call for EU to halt criminalisation of humanitarian support for refugees

World Refugee Day: Global crisis that needs solvingWorld Refugee Day: Global crisis that needs solving

Record 71 million people displaced worldwide, UN saysRecord 71 million people displaced worldwide, UN says


Lifestyle

Incarcerated in Auschwitz and other Nazi death camps Zuzana Ruzickova somehow survived and went on to create the complete recordings of her beloved Bach, writes James Lawless.Book review: Nazi horrors replaced by brutal Soviets for piano player

The Menu was delighted to make recent mention of a new UCC postgraduate diploma in Irish food culture and is equally pleased to announce availability of two new bursaries for same.The Menu: Food news with Joe McNamee

George Orwell’s classic novel foretold a lot, but the manner in which we’ve handed over our personal data to faceless corporatocracies is doubleplus-ungood, says Suzanne Harrington.How we sleepwalked into George Orwell’s nightmarish vision

Esther N McCarthy has her eye (and ear) on party speakers for your BBQ, spots a rug that’s out of this world, and revels in all that’s on offer for Heritage Week and Cork Craft Month.Your interiors wish list: Party speakers, Heritage Week and Cork Craft Month

More From The Irish Examiner