Speaking ahead of World Refugee Day, Sophie Magennis, head of office, UNHCR Ireland, said there was an urgent need to overhaul the asylum process here to speed up the manner in which cases are dealt with.
“On World Refugee Day we remember the plight of the 42.5 million people forcibly displaced worldwide at the end of 2011, who need protection and assistance,” she said.
“In Ireland, we remember the estimated 6,000 individual asylum-seekers who are waiting for their cases to be considered and recognise how difficult this wait must be for them.”
Yesterday, the Integration Centre published figures from its research document, Key Facts on Immigration and Diversity in Ireland, which it claimed dispelled “myths [that] prevail around immigrants, especially asylum seekers and refugees”.
The body’s chief executive, Killian Forde, said: “The myth that immigrants come into a country and steal jobs and go on welfare is exactly that — a myth.”
He said 40% of immigrants had lost their jobs in the recession, compared to 10% of Irish people, but the number of immigrants on the Live Register had remained static at 18% for the last number of years.
He said measures such as increased language supports would help maximise the potential of many immigrants and refugees in Ireland who wish to contribute to the country.
“We call on the Government to make a commitment to the 10,000 refugees and their families, 0.2% of the population, living in Ireland on International Refugee Day,” he said. “That it will put policies in place which will enhance integration and encourage every member of Irish society to believe that once you have made Ireland your home, you will be included in both policy and practice put in place.”
Elsewhere, UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon said countries around the world needed to address the underlying issues which lead to conflict and human displacement.